UAA | University Art Analysis — ‘Stellar Mitosis’ sheds light on the sciences

University of Alaska Anchorage students may want to stop by the ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building, or CPISB, to marvel at a two-story stained glass art piece that plays with light. 

“Stellar Mitosis” highlights the Alaska light through colored panels. Photo courtesy of Ted Kincaid.

“Stellar Mitosis” is an abstract stained glass window that features geometrically shaped amber, green, gold, blue and clear panels. Artist Jack Archibald and his assistant Larry Bach installed the 36 panels in July of 2014 using an aerial lift. The glass panes were sourced from Archibald’s favorite Seattle based glassblower, Jim Flanagan of Fremont Antique Glass. The 35-foot-tall window mural can be seen in the entryway of the CPISB.

“One of the things I like about glass, the windows change with the seasons, light [and] clouds,” Archibald said in an interview on July 30, 2014, with UAA’s Green & Gold News. 

An aerial crane is used by artist Jack Archibald to install “Stellar Mitosis” in 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Archibald.

Archibald, famous for his public glass art installations, lives in Camano Island, Washington. He became partial to glass as a medium after taking a night class, falling in love with the way light bent when working with the panels. 

“‘Stellar Mitosis’ is an abstract design that crosses all the scientific disciplines at the University Science Center, hopefully connoting organic biometrics to astrophysical symbology,” Archibald said in the description of “Stellar Mitosis” on Culture Now’s website. “It was intended to be a meditation on micro and macro spaces. To me, the universe is equally vast on the microscopic level as it is on the astronomical.”

“Stellar Mitosis” is a glasswork installation in the entryway of the ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building. Photo courtesy of Jack Archibald.

“Stellar Mitosis” was commissioned by the Percent for Art program, a legislation passed in 1975 requiring 1% of the capital construction costs for public buildings to be used for art installation. The CPISB art selection committee wanted a window that had a lot of light transmissions, according to UAA’s Green & Gold News. Archibald designed the piece to refract light in unique ways depending on how much light enters it.

“When somebody asks me what it is, I give them a title and that’s about as far as I’m going to go,” Archibald said in an interview on July 30, 2014, with UAA’s Green & Gold News. “I figure we’re both working on this. What it looks like to someone else is just as valid as what it looks like to me.”

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Archibald intended for the design to be interpretational so that viewers can decide for themselves what they are looking at. UAA students interpreted the art piece in many different ways.

“It’s very pretty,” freshman nursing major Emily Dulski said. “The colors are bright and warming.”

Ashley Hansen, a freshman journalism major, appreciates the glasswork in the piece.

“It has an interesting color scheme, and I like all the different types of glass textures and patterns they used,” Hansen said.

Some students appreciated the abstract nature and uniqueness of “Stellar Mitosis.”

“I think it’s an interesting concept,” freshman real estate major John Anderson said. “It’s interpretive.”

For more information on “Stellar Mitosis” and other sculptures by Archibald, visit his profile on Artist Trust’s website.

Have you seen art at UAA you want to know more about? Contact Gabby Vance at [email protected]