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Lindsey Adelman’s Ethereal Lamps at TIWA

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Lindsey Adelman’s latest exhibition, “A Realm of Light,” is a mesmerizing showcase of ethereal oil lamps at TriBeCa’s TIWA Gallery. This exhibition, running from May 16, 2024, features handcrafted amber luminaries that create an almost otherworldly atmosphere, with flames seemingly floating in midair. Adelman, in collaboration with her longtime glassblowing partner Michiko Sakano, has created a constellation of oil lamps encased in glass and suspended with darkened brass chains. These lamps, presented at varying heights, form four distinct configurations: single, double, triple, and an eight-lamp chandelier, each contributing to the gallery’s enchanting ambiance.

The space is further enriched by hand-stitched hanging panels from textile artist Sarah Nsikak, adding a layer of texture and artistry to the exhibit. The juxtaposition of fire and fabric creates a captivating interplay of light and shadow, enhancing the immersive experience.

Opposite the suspended lamps, a collection of five amber lamps with flat bases are designed to rest on surfaces. These stationary pieces offer a different kind of elegance, with sculptural glass shapes atop unglazed ceramic bases. Created in collaboration with glass artist Nancy Callan, these lamps use black, clear, and gold-leaf covered glass, incorporating Callan’s Venetian glassblowing techniques to achieve unique textures and reflective finishes.

Design Gallery TIWA serves as a perfect backdrop for Adelman’s exploration of light. The gallery space, curated with an eye for minimalism and intentionality, aligns seamlessly with the themes of the exhibition. “This collection has allowed me to reflect on the building blocks of light, why I’m drawn to working with light, why I’m a lighting designer,” Adelman explains. “Fire light is my favorite kind of light. It is primal, raw, and constantly changing, and the space it illuminates is constantly changing too.”

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Lindsey Adelman

Adelman’s choice to use fire instead of electricity feels radical, as it sidesteps modern conventions of lighting design. “Sculpting with fire is completely different from designing for electricity: fire is magical and dangerous, beyond your control, and yet demanding of your complete attention,” she says. Lighting these oil lamps is a deliberate, hands-on act, inviting users into a moment of reflection or communal gathering. This contrasts with the instant convenience of a light switch, demanding attention and creating a thoughtful atmosphere.

Adelman believes in the transformative power of these small objects, seeing them as instruments of intentionality and order. Her exploration of primordial lighting forms is influenced by the history of sacred ceremonies and collective rituals, aiming to evoke a deeper, more mystical inner world. This exhibition at TIWA Gallery not only showcases her mastery of light but also encourages viewers to reconnect with the primal essence of fire.

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