Josiah McElhenys work injects the formal and technical sophistication of studio glass into the realm of conceptual art. His masterfully crafted pieces have often worked with the reflective elements of sculpture in reflective spaces. The Last Scattering Surface, McElhenys latest installation at the Henry Art Gallery, is a ten-foot floating spherical work in glass, metal and electric lights that evokes the Big Bang theory. Utilizing the language of mid-1960s industrial design, McElheny is interested in the legacy of 20th century modernism and the crucial point in history where a singular, linear notion of history gave way to pluralism and a multitude of narratives.
The Last Scattering Surface is a scientific term used to describe a moment when the universe transitioned from opaque to transparent, and when light particles that composed all space and matter began to disperse.
With the realization of the Big Bang Theory in 1965 so too came the unfolding of this concept. Through collaborations with cosmology professor David Weinberg of the University of Ohio, this became the underlying principle of McElhenys sculptures which are created with scientific accuracy and precision. The exhibit also includes a number of concept drawings as well as McElhenys first film, shot on location at the Metropolitan Opera House, featuring the Lobmeyr Chandeliers which were commissioned shortly after the confirmation of the Big Bang to have a galactic appearance.
McElheny received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006. He has exhibited internationally and his work is included in numerous prominent collections such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London.