Knoxville Museum of Art Announces Major New Publication Celebrating Richard Jolley’s Monumental Masterwork Cycle of Life

(Knoxville, TN) – The Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) announced a new publication celebrating Richard Jolley’s masterwork Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity (2014), one of the world’s largest figural glass-and-steel sculptures that is on permanent display at KMA. The hardbound 144-page volume Richard Jolley: Cycle of Life includes essays by KMA Curator Stephen Wicks and distinguished scholars and authors J. Richard Gruber, Robert C. Morgan, and Lilly Wei examining the work, Jolley’s practice, and the rich artistic traditions of the region. The publication features photography by Hei Park documenting the creation of the monumental sculpture throughout Jolley’s five-year process and Elizabeth Felicella of its completed installation.

“The publication is a deeply compelling and visually stunning chronicle of Richard Jolley’s design, fabrication, and installation of his extraordinary artistic and engineering achievement,” said KMA Executive Director David Butler, who wrote the introduction. “Unveiled in May 2014, Cycle of Life affirms the Museum’s commitment to the art and artists of East Tennessee. It has transformed the Museum and made the KMA a must-see destination in our region. This beautiful new volume enriches the experience of viewing Cycle of Life and makes it available to an even wider audience.”

Richard Jolley: Cycle of Life was designed by Steven Schoenfelder with editorial production by SNAP Editions, New York, printed in Italy by Graphicom, S.r.L., and generously underwritten by Natalie and Jim Haslam, Ann and Steve Bailey, and Pilot Flying J. To purchase Richard Jolley: Cycle of Life, contact the KMA Gift Shop at 865.934.2042 or [email protected] Larger than Life, the Jupiter Entertainment film documenting the creation of Cycle of Life, is also available through the KMA Gift Shop.

About Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity

Spanning the entire length of the Museum’s Ann and Steve Bailey Hall, Cycle of Life (105’ by 30’ by 12’) is an epic narrative in seven parts depicting successive phases of life envisioned by the artist. By turns representational and abstract, Jolley’s assemblage deftly combines a wide range of images and influences—from the distinctive local sense of place, to the monumental frescoes of the Italian Renaissance, to the heroic paintings of Eugène Delacroix.

The first section, “Primordial,” features a dense forest of poplars—trees indigenous to eastern Tennessee—from whose trunks glass-blown leaves and thistles sprout. “Emergence,” made of cast black glass in a steel armature, takes the form of a large-scale man and woman walking together. In “Flight,” the journey to adulthood is exuberantly evoked by a flock of blown-glass blackbirds that appear to soar skyward.

Featuring a man and a woman posed in classical juxtaposition, “Desire” recalls countless imagery from around the globe signifying the primal life force. “Tree of Life” utilizes the symbolic image for abundance and fertility that dates back to ancient Near Eastern cultures. The 22-foot tree is festooned with thousands of glistening leaves, pomegranate blossoms, and doves. A massive head signifies “Contemplation,” indicating a time of respite and quiet introspection. From certain angles, the dark glass face is bisected by a beam of light made of crystal, suggesting a state of transition.

The series culminates with “Sky,” in which organic and figural forms give way to a dazzling constellation of geometric shapes and orbs of silvered glass suggestive of the universe and the infinite. Depending on the time of day, the reflective surfaces of the sculpture appear in a range of colors presenting an ever-changing visual experience for the viewer.

About Richard Jolley

Richard Jolley, internationally recognized as one of today’s most accomplished and inventive glass sculptors, was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1952. As a youth, he moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and in 1970 began his art training at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee, studying under noted glass artist Michael Taylor. After receiving his B.F.A. from George Peabody College in Nashville (now part of Vanderbilt University), Jolley continued graduate studies at North Carolina’s Penland School of Crafts under the instruction of studio glass artist Richard Ritter.

Since establishing his studio in Knoxville, in 1975, Jolley has participated in over 65 solo museum and gallery exhibitions throughout the U.S. and in Australia, Europe, Israel, and Japan. In 1997 the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, organized the first extensive exhibition of Jolley’s mature glass sculptures; and in 2002, the Knoxville Museum of Art presented the first major retrospective of Jolley’s work, which later traveled nationally to 14 museums over five years. In 2011, the Mobile Museum of Art presented Richard Jolley and Tommie Rush: A Life in Glass, featuring an extensive body of work by Jolley as well as by his wife, Tommie Rush, a respected glass artist in her own right.

Jolley’s works have been showcased in numerous important museum surveys of contemporary glass, including Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Sapporo, Japan; International Exhibition of Glass in Kanazawa, Japan; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

At present, Jolley’s work is represented in over 33 public collections, including Carnegie Museum of Art; Corning Museum of Glass; Frederick Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles; Knoxville Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and the private collection of Sir Elton John.

Jolley has also been honored with a variety of awards, commissions, and invitational workshops in the United States and abroad. In 2007, he became the youngest visual artist to receive the Tennessee Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award; in 2010 the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass named him as that year’s Individual for Outstanding Accomplishment in the Field. In addition to Cycle of Life, Jolley’s private and public commissions include Everything and the Cosmos (2007), installed at 7 World Trade Center, New York City. In 2011, he was invited to create a new art series at the Berengo Studio in Murano, Italy.

The Knoxville Museum of Art
The Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee, presents new art and new ideas, serves and educates diverse audiences, and enhances Knoxville’s quality of life. The museum is located in downtown Knoxville at 1050 World’s Fair Park and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10 am–5 pm, and Sunday 1pm–5 pm. Admission and parking are free.

Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity, 2009-2014. Detail of “Sky” and “Desire.” Blown, cast, and acid-etched glass, and welded steel with patina, 105 x 30 x 12 feet. Knoxville Museum of Art, gift of Ann and Steve Bailey
© 2014 Elizabeth Felicella Photography