Fluent Steps is poetry in glass that celebrates the many moods of water, from the delicate wisps of mist that rise from a meadow at dawn to the crashing cascades of a waterfall. It spans the entire length of the 210-foot-long Main Plaza reflecting pool and rises from water level to fifteen feet in height and consists of 754 individually hand-sculpted pieces of glass mostly created in the Museum’s Hot Shop during Blank’s 45-day Visiting Artist residency in 2008.
My intent with Fluent Steps is to awaken the viewer’s eye
to keenly observe, interact with, and respond to the emotive
nature of water. Water can be placid, sublime, and—in an
instant—uncompromisingly raw and powerful. It’s the vehicle
for capturing light, motion, fluidity, and transparency. It’s the
vehicle for life.
— Martin Blank
The sculpture includes four individual islands of glass that interact with one another to portray Blank’s interpretation of water in its various forms. Cascades rises above the viewer to a height of 15 feet above the water like a surging waterfall. Echo languidly flows across the surface of the pool, creating an intimate dance of texture and reflective light. Crystal Skin, created by molding glass around a 20-foot madrona tree, quietly floats atop the water surface, and Wisps, a field of hundreds of small glass forms, breaches the surface like rising mist.
The project required the invention of new tools to handle the massive amounts of glass and a team of 41 artists, architects, and engineers to create and install the work. For both Martin and the Museum, it was a marathon that demanded vast amounts of imagination, creativity, persistence and resourcefulness. The result is a magnificent sculpture that captures the fluidity, light, motion and transparency of water in clear glass. Ultimately, it is a work of art that is as imaginative and exuberant as Martin Blank himself.
This monumental installation opened April 18, 2009 and is part of the Museum’s Permanent Collection of 20th- and 21st-century glass art.
Great sculpture is like music; all you have to do is feel it.
— Martin Blank