Steffen Dam: Specimen Panel
by Julie Wolfson
The glowing Specimen Panel series created by Danish toolmaker Steffen Dam evokes a feeling of mystery with glass structures housing gorgeously creepy floating ocean creatures, plant life and magnified cells.
Drawing on inspirations from geology, astronomy and mechanical constructions, Dam claims that he's not "a true scholar." Tending to forget the actual facts, Dam visualizes the images from memory, transforming them into a panel that has no resemblance to anything accurately historic. "This is where the mystery lays: Is it fiction or reality?"
The process for making the panels begins by using the traditional glassmaking method for solid objects. Dam then covers each solid block of clear glass, employing a welding torch with "either colored glass powder, a thread of black glass, layers of metal foil or thin layers of carbon." Once all of the applications have been added, the object is covered in several more layers of clear glass and each one is fused together to make one Specimen Panel—an otherworldly biology lab usually consisting of 25 or more individual glass blocks.
The year is already be a busy one for Dam's work, which is currently on view at NYC's Heller Gallery, and will be included in the Collect fair hosted at London's Saatchi Gallery as well as at Joanna Bird Pottery in May. Dam will also exhibit a solo show at Seattle's Traver Gallery, in July and at SOFA Chicago in November.