Akron Art Museum Opens Paul Stankard Glass Exhibition

Akron Art Museum Announces Major Gift Mike and Anne Belkin Collection of Paul Stankard Glass Opens September 28, 2011

The Akron Art Museum will open the world’s largest public collection of glass by the celebrated artist Paul Stankard, who is known internationally for his innovative rethinking of the traditional glass paperweight. The collection is a gift of Mike and Annie Belkin of Northeast Ohio.


Paul Stankard, 2001, glass, 2 3/8 in. x 3 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in., Collection of Akron Art Museum, Gift of Annie and Mike Belkin 2010.282.58, Photo by Joseph Levack.

Stankard is simultaneously a master glass artist and an astonishing realist sculptor. His renditions of plants and insects seem like nature, miniaturized and preserved inside crystal-clear glass globes and cubes. Closer inspection will often reveal mythical and metaphorical motifs nestled amid the natural elements. Turning over one of the glass spheres, and intermingled with the roots of the plants, one can find masks, tiny words or “root people” that to Stankard represent the earth spirit.

With attention to the specifics of each blossom, leaf, insect or berry, his flameworked glass objects possess strong illusionist appeal. “I want to give the glass organic credibility. I use detail to emphasize the delicate,” Stankard said. “I want people to go beyond the wizardry of whether it is real or glass. It is about respect for living things.”

Over a 50-year career in glass, Stankard’s work has been widely exhibited and collected. His glass sculptures are in numerous public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum Mitchell Kahan exulted, “this gift is an amazing fulfillment of the museum’s long interest in the studio glass movement through many temporary exhibitions. We now have a permanent commemoration of this key development in American art.” He added, “This breathtaking collection is also a testament to the close relationship of artist and patron, who have worked hand in hand for years.”

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