The Touch of the Oracle features three monumental site-specific installations – Golden Rain, Joshua D’s Wall, and The Dilemma. These artworks provide an opportunity for audiences to experience the work of Michael Petry, an installation-based conceptual artist that draws inspiration from art history, mythology, and contemporary culture. The distinct pieces relate and interact with each other and the visitors to the gallery creating an ambiance of sound and visual complexity.
While Petry is not traditionally associated with the studio glass movement, his creative sensibilities are stimulated by the medium of glass in monumental works. Unlike studio glass artists, Petry does not actually create his individual art objects, but seeks out highly skilled crafts people with whom he collaborates to animate his conceptual ideas. For these installations, he has worked with an inspired team of glass blowers to create works that require a high level of technical expertise.
Golden Rain is an installation of 100 gold mirrored droplet-shaped glass vessels that reference the Greek myth of Danae. Petry invited 100 international artists to place an artwork, poem, object, or text inside one of the mirrored bottles, asking them to imagine being locked in a tower and having the bottle as their only means of communication. Petry then permanently sealed the mirrored bottles leaving their contents hidden but illustrated in the accompanying catalogue.
Golden Rain is like a welcome shower of nourishing rain in the dry California desert. 100 golden vessels, ranging from twelve to eighteen inches in length, are suspended from the ceiling and cascade toward the viewer in a rain shower formation. The rain vessels hang over Joshua D’s Wall, a field of glass stones, and engage in a visual dialogue with this second site-specific installation.
JOSHUA D’S WALL
Alluding to the biblical story of Joshua, his horn, and the fallen walls of Jericho, Joshua D’s Wall features an illuminating field of 250 hand-blown glass stones that are scattered over the gallery’s floor. Resembling small boulders, they reference the production of earth’s magma and the many colors found therein, as well as Petry’s own artistic impression of the natural environment. Petry says that the work is a direct response to the Palm Springs Art Museum’s architecture and its location near Joshua Tree National Park. When visiting the museum, Petry was astounded by the lava rock that forms the walls of the museum’s building.
The third component is The Dilemma, a sound piece that plays periodically throughout the gallery and extends the possibilities of sound as artwork. With a text by Petry set to music by John Powell and Gavin Greenaway, the piece features female and male voices singing a dialogue. The piece’s colloquial themes are inspired by Palm Springs’s historic connection to film and Hollywood.
The three installations -- Golden Rain, Joshua D’s Wall, and The Dilemma— relate and interact with each other, adding a layer of tonal and visual complexity. Petry transforms our observations about the nature of glass. While the golden rain drops appear to be seductively soothing and nourishing, Petry turns this traditionally fragile medium into a strong and powerful field of luminous boulders in Joshua D’s Wall. The environment allows the viewer to develop new insights, perceptions, and experiences as they encounter the glass installations and walk amongst the artworks and hear the sounds in the gallery.
Organized by the Palm Springs Art Museum, this exhibition is funded in part by the museum’s Contemporary Art Council, Donna MacMillan, Myrna Kaplan, Thelma and Gilbert Schnitzer, the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, Libby and Burton Hoffman, and Berengo Glass Studio, Murano, Italy.
English/Spanish bilingual materials are supported by the James Irvine Foundation.