The Comfort of Glass Art to Those Passing Through a Structure
If Mari’s glass water fountain is like a mille-feuille, what about its strength? This is a serious issue, especially for those who live in a quake-prone country. “Whenever I hear about an earthquake, I immediately check whether my work is broken or has hurt somebody,” said Mari. She has pursued greater strength in her works through many experiments to ensure that they won’t break easily. Since the material is glass, she had to be oversensitive about the work’s sturdiness.
In her experiments, she dropped glass many times to study how broken pieces scattered on the floor. She also performed multiple examinations before choosing the best adhesive agent to secure glass durably without compromising its transparency. Before today, her works had to overcome a lot of challenges and have finally established true durability.
Out of many, two examples of this strength are a four-meter-high glass wall installed in the lobby of the Daiori Kenpo Kaikan building in Osaka, made in 1994, and a roughly seven-meter-wide glass wall located at the entrance hall of a gold club in Saitama Prefecture in 1997. These works survived the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, remaining intact during quakes with seismic intensity of over 6.
In March 2017, a work titled “Madobe no Yumegatari” (“fantastic story-telling near the window”) was presented to a new factory for Saito Confectionary in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. The work had been previously placed in Yokohama. Ofunato was heavily stricken by the 2011 earthquake, and this confectioner’s office and factory were both severely damaged. More than 20 years before 2011, a piece by Mari’s had been installed in the factory, but it was carried off by a tsunami. Six years after the great earthquake, the factory was reopened. Last year, Mari’s work was sent to celebrate the renewal. She hoped to bring peace of mind and bright future through her work.
In April 2011, one month after the March 11 quake, she was commissioned to create a work in Yokohama. And before winter, “Yokohama Three Towers Story” was erected at the entrance of Porta Yokohama. This large-scale work is seen by almost every single person visiting Yokohama. She made this one while wishing for the repose of souls and for a swift recovery from the damage. “Yokohama and the Tohoku region are connected by the same seacoast. I hope seagulls from Yokohama will fly over to the damaged region in the north to convey our prayers,” she said.
A moment passes in an instant. Neither the wind, nor light, nor smell of any particular moment can be owned by anybody. Nevertheless, artist Mari Noguchi wants to grasp the moment and keep it as an art object. For her, the challenge is to give shape to the glass. Mari’s works represent resistance against the oblivion of ephemeral experiences. When you arrive at a space where her pieces are installed, you might even access your forgotten memories.
When asked why she has pursued architectural glass art, she said, “Be it a house, an office or a factory, a structure is not only a physical space but also a place where people are always coming and going. I believe that glass is the material that allows things to be expressed in the most beautiful way.” She also said, “I create works to illuminate people’s hearts and bring them comfort. The beauty of glass is the measure.”
Last Two Photos: The Shape of Watery Life, 2018, wall glass art installed in Netz Toyota Nagoya, Minato Meishi. Size: W1300×H3100
Top Photo: Chery Blossoms Dancing in Kimpa Rimpa, 2016, wall glass art installed at the entrance of Hoshi no Naruki in Yokohama. Size: W4918×H2238
Photos provided by Atelier Mari and Bird; Text by Motomi Takahashi