"ELEMENTS" A NEW SCULPTURE BY MARTHA MADIGAN
AT THE CORESTATES CENTER
The end of August will mark the dedication and grand opening of a major public work of art by Martha Madigan. Pushing the limits of state-of-the-art glass technology, Madigan has created a suspended spiral mobile sculpture that celebrates the human spirit as it transcends the limitations of the body.
Madigan has used elements in nature that correspond to the four ancient elements - earth, air, fire, and water - to symbolize the eternal quality in human nature that allows us to overcome our limitations. Through digital computer technology, Madigan collaged this natural and elemental imagery to form the silhouettes of our greatest sports and entertainment legends. A background composed of an element of nature surrounds each silhouette. A hockey player of volcanic fire and flame, a basketball star of wind and air, a tennis player of verdant grass and earth and others figures come alive as transparent photographic images. Each sports figure is depicted in action against a background of a related element from nature. These brilliantly colored images are laminated between nine by four foot sheets of Starphire crystal glass and so become transcendent bodies filled with light, floating through the air on a spiral that symbolizes the eternal nature of the human quest for excellence.
The sculpture was commissioned for the new CoreStates Center by Martha and Ed Snider, whose support and enthusiasm as art collectors made this unique work possible. Working with the world's experts in glass design, glass and steel engineering, and digital imagery, Madigan has created a new form of stained glass for the coming millennium. James Carpenter Design Associates consulted on technical design and engineering; Tri-Pyramid Structures has fabricated the steel armature; and John Depp, Inc. fabricated the unique glass panels. Aided by her high-powered team, Madigan has created the glass and steel spiral sculpture suspended high above the visitors to the Main Atrium of the new CoreStates Center in Philadelphia. Photographic imagery, glass and steel have been engineered to support and balance each other, functioning as a team, as do the players performing inside the new arena.
To create this work of art, Madigan took leave from her position as chair of the Department of Photography at the Tyler School of Art of Temple University, where she has taught since 1979. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Madigan earned a Masters of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been active in the Philadelphia art community since 1979. Madigan has exhibited widely and won numerous awards for her photography. This summer she has also been honored with a one person exhibition at the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Faced with the challenge of the commission for the CoreStates Center, Madigan has surpassed modern technology in creating an art that portrays "human beings reaching beyond the limitations of the body" - a fitting complement for the new arena.