STOCKBRIDGE – Icicles in varying shades of blue and white glisten in the sunshine as they hang from the branches of a century-old apple tree at the edge of historic Chesterwood Orchard.
The icicles serve as a reminder of the ever-present threat of frost, says artist Natalie Tyler, who crafted more than 50 hand-blown icicles for Thaw, one of two sculptural works in her site-specific installation, “Fire and Ice.”
“I wanted to do it out of season to give you that feeling, that fear of ‘what if there was a frost at harvest time? ‘,’ she said during a recent visit to her studio in Chesterwood, where ‘Fire and Ice plays until October 24.
“There are cast glass elements, but those pieces are ladle cast,” Tyler said of the work. “I made a mold, then we took the molten glass out of the oven and poured it over the mold to create the ice that flows over the branches. Each of the ice cubes is blown by hand. With some of them, I was trying to get that kind of Tiffany-opalescent feel. I experimented a lot with the different colors that I mixed in the glass to try and get that icy feel.
Nearby, Wildfire, a cast glass and bronze sculpture of a burning tree engulfed in flames, stands in juxtaposition with Thaw. The pair are part of a series exploring how climate change is affecting our world through rising sea levels, devastating wildfires and melting glaciers.
Tyler’s artistic practice begins with sculpted wax, around which she builds molds. She then melts the wax, replacing it with glass paste or bronze.
“I gained a lot of inspiration by being here – inspiration by [Daniel Chester French’s] work and the natural landscape of Chesterwood itself,” she said. “Much of my work is nature-based.”
Thaw was created during his artist residency at the historic home and studio of Daniel Chester French, a collaboration between the Berkshire Art Center, formerly IS183, and Chesterwood.
“They bring in artists from the Berkshires to take inspiration from cultural institutions,” Tyler said. “I applied in the spring, got accepted, got really excited, and came here and started working in June. I worked on these months of June, July and August.
During his residency in Chesterwood, Tyler was able to work inside French’s studio.
“I had moments of calm in there, just with his work, getting inspired and being able to sculpt,” she said. “I’m kind of making a comeback to the figure with a project that I’m going to work on, having worked there and drawing inspiration from his winged figures.”
Originally from Encinitas, California, Tyler has a studio, L’Atelier Berkshires, in Great Barrington.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
What: “Fire & Ice”, a site-specific art installation by Natalie Tyler
Where: Chesterwood, 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge
When: Until October 24
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday to Monday until October 24. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Admission: Tyler’s work, located next to the parking lot, can be viewed without purchasing tickets. To visit Chesterwood or the park, tickets are required.
Tickets: $20, adults; $18, seniors; $15, military; $10, college students and young adults 13 and older; free for children under 13; $10 for the land only. Admission for Berkshire residents is half price on weekends until October 24
Information: 413-298-2023, chesterwood.org