The art of stained glass by Tom Fruin

Stained glass is historically associated with sites of religious activity as the effect of light shining through the coloured glass creates a veritable light show of colour and form that has strong connotations with notions of the divine.

However, a pleasing decorative architectural feature, stained glass is no longer relegated to churches, cathedrals and temples but has found its way into many other building projects across the world- from residential dwellings to municipal buildings.

Kolonihavehus is a large scale installation resembling a simple house that takes cues from the art of stained glass window design.

Created by Brooklyn-based artist Tom Fruin, a steel frame is wrapped with 35 panels of salvaged, multicoloured plexiglass squares. Ranging from 2x2 to 24x363 inches, the squares have been arranged much like a collage. The panels are bolted together to create a colourful skin resembling a patchwork of colour and light.

The door to the structure is pivot mounted and clear glass panels serve as windows, enabling a view into the interior of the structure. The sculpture was used as a site for performance art and poetry readings by CoReact, a Danish contemporary performance collective.

Kolonihavehus translates to allotment hut in English and is based on the traditional garden shed structures found in Copenhagen, which historically provided a private retreat for workers from the overcrowded city centre.

The work discusses notions of ‘escape and resourcefulness’ and influences from traditional art and architecture are apparent. As well as drawing reference from the architecture of religion, the work is also heavily influenced by the formalist art movement De Stilj and is reminiscent of a Mondrian composition. An example of ‘pause-architecture’, the structure serves to disrupt the largely ubiquitous urban landscape.

The project was first exhibited at the open riverfront plaza of the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen, Denmark, and later in New York at the Brooklyn Bridge Park (2014).

Following the success of Kolonihavehus, Fruin went on to build Watertower; a similar stained plexiglass structure, shaped like a miniature water tower which can be viewed from the Brooklyn Bridge, New York City.

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