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tim tate’s illuminarium to debut at sofa-chicago 2009

Tim Tate designed his most recent body of work after feeling the pull to get back to his roots in craft. Combining hundreds of pieces of cast glass, blown glass forms that enclose the cast pieces, and lighting from within provided by LED lights, the Illuminarium series marks a new direction for the nationally known sculptor who is best known for video reliquaries.

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Headed Home, 8x8x22
cast glass, turned and blown glass, LED’s

Historically, we often view objects under glass as important and revered. When creating the Illuminarium pieces, Tate drew upon memories of an image from a documentary that featured a picture of Madam Curie’s newly discovered radium under a glass dome.


Guardian, 10x10x22
cast bullseye glass, turned and blown glass, LED’s


When I asked about the new series, which the Maureen Littleton Gallery will preview at SOFA Chicago this weekend, Tim explained, “I chose Illuminarium as a term to describe the work. It references not only its LED illumination, but also refers to spiritual illumination from within. This form hopefully gives these pieces the feeling of awe I once had while watching that glowing piece of radium.”


The Artist’s Attic, 9x9x24
cast and blown glass, LED’s

While Tate’s Illuminarium is centered firmly in craft, the work is driven by new technologies. Small LED lighting that is now available throws off very little heat and allowed him to enclose the lights under the glass domes.



Summer Of Love, 8x8x24
cast uranium glass, blown glass, black light LED’s

Last year when they began making the LED’s in black light, it was enough to bring back his childhood fascination with black lights and peace signs. ‘Summer of Love’ is made of hundreds of cast glass peace signs, Ganesh heads, flowers, toadstools and a hookah smoking caterpillar finial at the top.

Lit with LED black lights, ‘Summer of Love’ captures more than cast glass elements – it captures the thinking and actions of a generation and preserves them in our collective memory.


Summer of Love, detail


Hookah smoking caterpillar finial lit by LED black light

Congratulations to Tate on this new direction – he continues to provide us with thought provoking, stirring work that transforms our experience of art.


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