Beginning with a series of delicate glass bowls with bird feet, created for an exhibition in Brandon in 1989, Ione Thorkelsson has been pushing the boundaries of cast glass to create pieces that speak to the complexity of living forms. Reassembly brings together diverse bodies of work from key points in her career, which spans almost the entire duration of the studio glass movement in Canada. In her increasingly complex sculptural installations, Thorkelsson primarily casts natural things - bones, roots, animal parts - to create hybrid objects that suggest a parallel world that is at once real and imaginary. Often informed by ideas of utopia, her works acknowledge the simultaneous fragility and resilience of life.
In this immersive installation, Ione Thorkelsson returns to glass blowing to construct spheres suspended in a dark chamber, habitat for traces of life that is at the boundary of natural and artificial. Synthia is a simple cell organism, developed in 2010 entirely through technological means - the “first species to have its parents be a computer.” The news of its creation deeply shook Thorkelsson. Scientific creation of life shifted what she believed to be fundamental and unchanging in the in the natural world. Synthia’s Closet was created in response to a desire for reassurance, an exploration of how to navigate the shifting boundary between life and technology; it is a space that is both alluring and vaguely discomforting, questioning the cultural disquietude surrounding current trends in bioengineering, genetic manipulation, and artificial life.