'This Blue Marble: The Universe of Josh Simpson' at MCLA Gallery 51


NORTH ADAMS, MA - On Oct. 25, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Gallery 51 will present "This Blue Marble: The Universe of Josh Simpson," a solo exhibition of work from internationally known glass artist Josh Simpson. This exhibition will feature new and old celestial-inspired pieces, and look into the artist's process and his Infinity Project.

A  reception will be held Thursday, Oct. 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. as a part of the last DownStreet Art Thursday celebration for the season. Simpson, who received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from MCLA in 2004, will be in attendance.

Inspired by natural landscapes and the demanding traits of his medium, Simpson's intricate work is utilizes balance and light to evoke the wonder of the universe into glass.

"Josh combines science and the arts with his imaginative and beautiful orbs, which represent his interpretations of space, the Earth and other planets. His innovative work to recreate meteorite glass in his studio, as well as the intense and iridescent colors he crafts, result in unique and mesmerizing art," said MCLA President Mary K. Grant. "We are thrilled to welcome him back to campus as he brings his complex glass work to MCLA Gallery 51."

The exhibition of Simpson's work has been a collaborative project of MCLA's arts management and art students. Students have been involved from the beginning; helping in the curatorial and installation processes, and marketing.

Arts management major Shannon Costello '13, curatorial associate intern, said, "This experience has been so wonderful. From meeting the artist at his studio to selecting pieces for the show, I have been involved in all aspects of curating a gallery exhibition. The knowledge is certainly something that I will carry with me as I move on in the field."

Simpson, whose studio is in Shelburne Falls, Mass., first experimented with glass in 1970 and since then has devoted himself to mastering all aspects of glass making. He has found inspiration in NASA images of Earth when creating his "planets": luminous glass spheres encasing kaleidoscopic landscapes, underwater scenes, and vistas of outer space that reflect Earth's vastness and complexity.

In 1976, Simpson started the Infinity Project, when he hid small glass planets in his backyard. Since then, more than 2,000 participants hid these little planets in locations all around the world; some which may be quickly discovered, and others that may be hidden for thousands of years. According to Simpson, he "hopes future archeologists will be confused about the meaning and purpose of the little spheres, wondering what they are and how they go there."

His work is in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the White House Collection of American Crafts and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.

The fifth annual season of DownStreet Art celebrates the arts on the last Thursday of every month in downtown North Adams. There will be gallery exhibition openings, street musicians, and specials at local businesses. The event is free and open to the public. All of the participating artists will be in attendance.

The initiative was designed to revitalize downtown North Adams by identifying the City as a cultural haven. The program serves not only to increase MCLA's visibility, but to showcase what other local arts organizations have to offer. For more information about DownStreet Art and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, go to and bcrc .

For more information about Simpson's artwork, visit his Web site:

"This Blue Marble: The Universe of Josh Simpson" runs through Nov. 25. MCLA Gallery 51 is at 51 Main St. in North Adams and is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.