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Josiah McElheny in "Memory"

“All of my work is essentially derived from some previous source,” says Josiah McElheny. “A lot of times what I’m doing is re-imaging something or transforming it slightly, but it’s always very much in connection to its source.”

In his exhibition Total Reflective Abstraction, he uses a silvered glass technique to build on the theories of Isamu Noguchi and Buckminster Fuller proposing a completely reflective “utopia.” McElheny’s mirrored objects relate to one another in an infinite matrix of reflections.

“The definition of being a modern person is to examine yourself, to reflect on yourself and to be a self-knowledgeable person,” he explains, as he himself reflects on the meaning of his work.

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Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Assistant Curator: Wesley Miller. Production Manager: Alice Bertoni. Production Coordinator: Kelly Shindler. Producer: Charles Atlas. Editor: Lizzie Donahue. Host: Isabella Rossellini. Director of Photography: Takahisa Araki, Norbert Arnsteiner, Martial Barrault, Kurt Branstetter, Bob Elfstrom, Mead Hunt, Nancy Schreiber, Joel Shapiro, & Dyanna Taylor. Sound: Tom Bergin, Ray Day, Lori Dovi, Jim Gallup, Stacy Hruby, Gary Silver, Jean-Pierre Vial, Ullrich Vlasak, & Merce Williams. Gaffer: Todd Csernecky, Lamar Bloodworth, Ted Hayash, & Mike Lamb. Grip: Michele De Lorimier & Darryl Miller. Assistant Camera: Sean Brown, Marie Chao, Brian Hwang, Kipjaz Savoie, Dave Wightman, Lievan van Hulle, & Yahia Zadek. Production Assistant: Xavier Ballandras, Larry Fojtik, Michaela Hoeck, Kathy Kniss, Justin Leitstein, Mary Jo Mauro, Alexei Van Mourik, Scott Resnick, & Rob Zalkind. Assistant Avid Editor: Robert Achs, Jamie Courville, Sean Frechette, Mike Heffron, David Kreger, Cara Leroy O’Connell, Joaquin Perez, Aaron Sheddrick, & Lynn True. Still Photography: Alice Bertoni & Bob Elfstrom.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Art Design & Animation: Open, New York. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Voice-Over Artist: Jace Alexander. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Sound Lounge. Animation Stand: Frank Ferrigno & Frame:Runner NYC. Introductory Host Segments Created by: INTERspectacular. Commissioned Video Art by: Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler.

Artworks Courtesy of: Mike Kelley; Josiah McElheny; Susan Rothenberg; Hiroshi Sugimoto; © 2005 Susan Rothenberg / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © 2005 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Succession Marcel Duchamp; Des Moines Art Center; Electronic Arts Intermix; Jablonka Galerie, Köln; Metro Pictures, New York; Sperone Westwater, New York; & Donald Young Gallery, Chicago. Archival Footage Courtesy of: Artist Network Pictures/Takahisa Araki.

Special Thanks: Gen Aihara; The Art21 Board of Trustees; Tatiana Bliss; Hervé Chandès; Linda Chenit; Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain; Curious Pictures; Michael Davis Stained Glass; Bernhard Fleischer; Martha Friedman; Andrea Hall; Achim Hochdörfer; Miani Johnson; Norman Keyes; Tomoko Kimata; Dominic Mercier; Michelle Menotti; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien; Karen Polack; Grazia Quaroni; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Anders Rydstedt; Soundtrack F/T; Gregg Stanger; Mary Clare Stevens; Jennifer Tobias; Valley Plaza Recreation Center, North Hollywood; & Lisa Williamson.

Director of Education & Outreach: Jessica Hamlin. Director of Development: Kathi Pavlick. Development Associate: Sara Simonson.

Interns: Susan Agliata, Nathan Townes-Anderson, Hannah Blumenthal, Agnes Bolt, Lisa Charde, Mary Chou, Kate Crawford, Amanda Donnan, Sophie Dunoyer de Segonzac, Suzy Foster, Jules Gaffney, Katie Hen, Heather Hughes, Adam Krakowski, Georgia Kung, David Mark Kupperberg, Maiko Kyogoku, Phil Logan, Lisa Margulies, Michelle Maydanchik, Carla Meyers, Christine Miller, Geoffrey Pan, Sujay Pandit, Jihan Robinson, Jennifer Sarkilahti, Megan Scally, Karen Seapker, Greg Shilling, Sarah Sliwa, Jennifer Smith, & Elizabeth Swift.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Station Relations: De Shields Associates, Inc. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman. Bookkeeper: Marea Alverio-Chaveco & William Handy.

Major underwriting for Season 3 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Bagley Wright Fund Bloomberg, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Josiah McElheny

Josiah McElheny creates finely crafted, handmade glass objects that he combines with photographs, text, and museological displays to evoke notions of meaning and memory. Whether recreating miraculous glass objects pictured in Renaissance paintings or modernized versions of non-extant glassware from documentary photographs, McElheny’s work takes as its subject the object, idea, and social nexus of glass. Influenced by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, McElheny’s work often takes the form of “historical fiction”—which he offers to the viewer to believe or not. Part of McElheny’s fascination with storytelling is that glassmaking is part of an oral tradition, handed down generation to generation, artisan to artisan.

“All of my work is essentially derived from some previous source. A lot of times what I’m doing is re-imaging something or transforming it slightly, but it’s always very much in connection to its source.”

Josiah McElheny

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Objects and Ideas

Josiah McElheny discusses how he began working with glass, and his work’s relation to memory and history.