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History & OriginalityJosiah McElheny
Artist Josiah McElheny discusses the relationship between artworks and the context in which they were created, highlighting the distinctions between history and the personal and interpretive reinvention of historical facts.More information and credits
Producer: Wesley Miller and Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera & Sound: Kurt Branstetter, Joel Shapiro, and Tom Bergin. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Artwork Courtesy: Josiah McElheny. Special Thanks: Donald Young Gallery, Chicago and MoMA QNS, Long Island City.
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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.