Paul Stankard Glass Sculptures and Documentary

By Betty Wilson, Director of Marketing Communication

Western Reserve PBS and Stankard DocumentaryCelebrated glass artist Paul Stankard is universally regarded as a master of his art. His paperweights and glass sculptures have appeared in galleries and museums throughout the world, including the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

And now his work is on long term view in Akron. The Akron Art Museum recently opened the world’s largest public collection of Stankard glass. The collection is a gift of Northeast Ohio concert promoter Mike Belkin and his wife Annie, who over a 30 year period amassed the largest holding of Stankard’s work in the world. Their Akron gift of 64 objects is their largest to a public institution. At any one time, about half of the collection will be on view. Objects will be rotated periodically from storage to give visitors a new experience when they return to the museum.

Stankard’s molten glass renditions of plants and insects are stunning simulations, miniaturized and preserved inside crystal-clear glass globes and cubes. Strongly influenced by the poetry of Walt Whitman, Stankard references the continuum of nature by portraying and exploring the mysteries of seeds, fertility and decay.

Through the generosity of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the museum is collaborating with Western Reserve Public Media in Northeast Ohio on a documentary about the artist, the donors and the collection. The documentary will soon air multiple times on the three channels of this PBS company and will be available on their website (

In early September a television production crew visited Stankard in his south New Jersey home and studio. More filming followed when the artist visited Akron September 26-28 for the collection unveiling. The numerously Emmy-nominated production team now has the daunting task of editing days of taping into a 27-minute documentary. It is especially challenging because, as Stankard tells it, he “has the gift of gab.” Quite the story-teller, the artist shares colorful tales of his early years, influences and lampwork/flamework technique.

After the initial PBS airing, museum visitors will also be able to view the documentary. The glass collection is on display in new exhibition space designed especially for the gift and includes a video monitor.


Arctic Re-visions: Isaac Julien’s True North

Arctic Re-visions:

Isaac Julien’s True North

June 5, 2010 – October 3, 2010

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

The sound and video installation True North (2004) is a journey into the beautiful yet terrifying midst of a sublime continent. Internationally acclaimed British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien immerses viewers in the haunting landscape of the North Pole, which has seduced scientists, explorers, writers and visual artists since the 19th century. This presentation of the three-screen multi-media installation will mark the debut of this important work from the museum’s collection.

Julien describes True North as a cinematic “re-memorizing” of the story of Matthew Henson, the black engineer who accompanied polar explorer Robert Peary in 1909 on the first expedition to reach the North Pole. The video’s narration is taken from a shocking interview Henson gave in 1966, in which, 30 years after Peary’s death, Henson claimed that he had reached the Pole before Peary.

Shot in Iceland, True North unfolds on three screens that span almost 40 feet. Images zoom in and out on the icy vistas to provide different perspectives on Henson’s journey. All the while mysterious and haunting sounds are layered with the voices and music to echo the vast, isolated landscape.

Nominated in 2001 for Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize for his artistic work, Julien also won an award for one of his documentary films at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989. Since 1983, he has created films, video installations and photographs that break down the boundaries between artistic disciplines.

This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum and made possible by support from the Gay Community Endowment Fund, The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, the Harris-Stanton Gallery and The Welty Family Foundation.

Issac Julien: TRUE NORTH