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Washburn Observatory, UW Madison
Washburn Observatory, 1880 (ca.), Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID 26709.
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Why is MMoCA exhibiting this show at Washburn Observatory instead of in museum galleries?
Martha Glowacki chose Washburn Observatory on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for its significance in the history of star and space investigation. Intrigued by twentieth century studies demonstrating that star positions are one of several orienting cues for bird migration, Glowacki created a sculptural installation to be located specifically in the observatory environment. The observatory is a "perfect setting because of its age and because it has been little changed since opening in 1881." She likes the sense of history the observatory contributes to the university campus and the community.

Why is MMoCA exhibiting this artist's work?
Martha Glowacki has built a distinguished record of creating meticulous artworks that refer to science history. The museum exhibited her earlier sculptures in its galleries in 1995.

Martha Glowacki Starry Transit
Martha Glowacki, Didactic Object (Livio Sanuto's Trapezoid), 1989, bronze, brass, goldleaf, wood, graphite, paint, 30 inches high x 13 inches long x 3 inches deep.
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Martha Glowacki Starry Transit
Martha Glowacki, Long Net, 1992, bronze, brass, bronzing powder, 27 inches high x 52 inches long x 12 inches deep.
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Martha Glowacki Starry Transit
Martha Glowacki, An Original Theory of Navigation, 1999, wood, metal, string, graphite, pigments, 58-1/2 inches high x 26 inches long x 12 inches deep.
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Martha Glowacki Starry Transit
Martha Glowacki, Spring, 1999, wood, metal, graphite, pigments, 31-1/2 inches high x 29 inches long x 11 inches deep.
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Martha Glowacki, Starry Transit, 2004
Martha Glowacki, Starry Transit, 2004, wood, glass, brass, copper, bird carcasses, paper, pigments.
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Why is the artist so interested in the subject matter?
Since childhood, Glowacki has been fascinated by investigations into nature, particularly as they are represented in natural history museums. She immerses herself in scientific treatises in library rare book rooms. When she read planetarium studies of bird migration by star position, she thought they were "magical." This installation demonstrates how an artist synthesizes information to produce artworks.
 
 
 

Cabinet of Curiosity, Martha Glowacki
Martha Glowacki, Starry Transit, 2004, wood, glass, brass, copper, bird carcasses, paper, pigments (detail).
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What kind of art is in this exhibition?
The exhibition is called an installation, that is, a group of artworks created specifically for a particular space. It includes three-dimensional sculptures and assemblages, or combinations of found and specially created objects, as well as texts and sound.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

How were the artworks made?
Glowacki uses her artistic skills in woodworking, metalworking, etching, painting and taxidermy to create assemblages that blur distinctions between using found objects and creating new objects to look old. Glowacki carefully researches scientific articles and illustrations to create her detailed artistic interpretations.

Martha Glowacki Constructs Starry Transit
Materials and a Boötes constellation template used in construction of Starry Transit.
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Martha Glowacki Constructs Starry Transit
Martha Glowacki uses a lathe to shape wood elements for Starry Transit.
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Martha Glowacki Constructs Starry Transit
Martha Glowacki finishing a table she designed for Starry Transit.
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How long did it take to prepare for this exhibition?
The exhibition was developed over a period of two years—beginning with consultations between the artist, the museum and the University through the period of construction of objects to the actual date of installation.