Nancy Gong Brings Laminated Glass Artwork to the U.S. with Recent and Upcoming Projects

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Nationally-known architectural glass artist Nancy Gong announces upcoming installations featuring a new laminating technology for glass art pieces. Gong is one of a handful of artists in the United States incorporating this technique into her recent projects and installations.

Imagine vibrant, dimensional mouth-blown sheet glass gracing a window or building facade without the restrictions of lead. Imagine fine layers of textured glass creating patterns of light and shadow that change with each hour and season—preserving the grandeur of stained glass while imparting a bright, modern energy. This effect is made possible by a recent method of manipulating glass to create laminated glass.

Nancy Gong, an architectural glass artist recognized internationally for mingling tradition and technology in her pieces, is among the first wave of trained American glass artists to embrace this laminating process. The technique has been in production in Germany for nearly 30 years by specialized fabrication studios, including the acclaimed Derix Studios, upon which artists throughout the world have relied to fabricate public art projects. The use of laminated glass has recently made its debut in the United States through the very few artists, such as Gong, who have incorporated this technique into their work.

Gong is currently working on a commissioned project for the Rochester Museum and Science Center through the Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP) – a bold feature wall with two leaning pieces evoking an open book, inviting museum-goers to learn about stormwater management as part of a permanent educational pavilion exhibit. The exhibit is set to be completed fall 2015.

“A single panel of this artwork can be as large as plate glass is available,” says Gong. “Lighter colors can be layered for a very fine kaleidoscope effect; and the design can cover the complete plate glass surface or provide partial coverage, accents and focal points to diffuse or preserve daylight or the view. The glass can be etched, chipped, painted, etc. Because the design comes alive as the viewer moves and the layers catch light, this is a beautiful way to bring any space alive.”

Acclaimed for both her interior and exterior glasswork, Gong has taken the lead in developing architectural applications for laminated glass, weaving up to six layers of painted and etched glass into one striking work of art.

Utilizing Lambert's mouth-blown, hand-rolled antique sheet glass laminated to tempered float glass, Gong selectively hand cuts glass into specific patterns. She then joins the laminated, etched and painted glass using a silicone that is similar to what is used in solar panels. The laminated glass is sustainable in interior or exterior installations and is able to withstand extreme desert and subzero temperatures. Combined, these factors allow for greater design and application possibilities for both architectural and fine art glass. Gong is currently developing a line of large scale colored contemporary glass art screens for permanent outdoor installations and indoor spaces.

Laminated glass provides a creative way to bring color to high-traffic areas that are easy to clean, Gong says. The approach eliminates the structural design limitations with traditional leaded glass, and can be used for anything from large glass building facades to windows, doors, sculptures and tabletops.

Ray and Judy Ricker of Rochester recently commissioned Gong to create an art glass entry for their Fairport residence. Seeking a lighter, more contemporary aesthetic that preserves the traditional grandeur of stained glass, Gong designed two casement windows, a side-light and a door using the new laminated glass technique.

“The interesting thing is that it looks different depending on the time of day and the weather outside,” says Ray Ricker. “It brings our space alive.”

The Rickers are inspired by their love of music, nature and various cultures, which guided Gong's design of bold colors and abstract patterns.

“I love the modern aesthetic of the technique, and how distinct it is from any other type of architectural art glass,” says Gong, whose studio turned 35 last year. “It’s a great way to paint with light. There is much more flexibility in how art glass can be used with a much lighter aesthetic. It looks handmade, is handmade and is made in the United States.”

About Nancy Gong:

Based in Rochester since 1979, Nancy Gong founded the studio of Gong Glass Works ( Gong is one of a handful of female artists whose architectural scaled public art is on display in Rochester. Her work is recognized worldwide. She is active with the American Glass Guild, Stained Glass Association of America, The Society of American Mosaic Artists and The Glass Arts Society. Her work is in private collections world wide. Her public art can also be seen at ARTWalk’s Gleason Bus Shelter, the Port of Rochester, the largest architectural etched glass in Rochester at Rochester Institute of Technology.

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