The reeds sculpture can be found in the middle of the Main Library in downtown Toledo, Ohio. Carved out of red stained glass, the work is located inconspicuously under a small patch of an upper floor that holds a dining table and as as a bridge to an art gallery. Its presence is striking when found because of how stark the red contrasts with the gray metal of the ceiling and and white walls.
Thematically, the sculpture is rather dull in its simplicity. There’s an obvious representation of reeds and a blooming color that represents the blood that runs through all of life and supports it. After staring at it for a while, I noticed that it resembled a Rothko painting in its geometrical representation of color. I wasn’t particularly in awe or struck by it, but rather shrugged and and whispered art.
Trying to gain some insight into the simplistic piece against the very real notion that there might not be some, I walked around the library looking at it from different angles.
It took a few steps circling around the sculpture and climbing up and down stairs, but it eventually dawned on me that the reeds resembled spikes, much like in the bridge level in the original Mortal Kombat game. It seems such a silly thought, but look at sculpture from these angles:
Looking down at it from the bridge above, there’s a horrifying glimpse of the tips of spikes, waiting to pierce this would-be-jumper’s heart. It’s a chilling scenario, reinforced by the blood red of the glass. I had to be insane to think this was the intent of the artist Dale Chihuly, but I never count on what an artist intended and what was the result. Here was a sculpture of spikes, sugar coated as “reeds”.
Perhaps the only way I could reason out the intent of this nefarious image was by imagining it like an escape from the humanities. Lost amidst a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that can be found in the library, one’s only escape is to jump. If intellectualism is the ultimate deviation from nature into humanity, then death and “reeds” are the ultimate expression of wilderness. And it is in this spectrum that one must place their own bet. I chose to take the elevator back down and check out the DVD section.