Jed Malitz poses for a photo with his work V2. The glass sculpture depicts the crucifixion and it is produced by light shining through 13 arranged panes of sculpted glass cut using a computer-guided process. CNS photo/Frank Methe

3-D art depicts Christ’s light

By  Peter Finney Jr., Catholic News Service
  • April 3, 2015

Jed Malitz appends V2 to the name of his art gallery in New Orleans’ Warehouse District. The V2 stands for “Version 2” — both in art and in life.

Inside Malitz’s gallery, floor-to-ceiling black drapes bisect the rectangular gallery space. In front of the drapes, visible as soon as someone walks in, is haunting glass artwork — human figures of pure light produced by light shining through 13 meticulously arranged panes of sculpted glass, cut by a computer-guided, high-speed jet of water and garnet dust.

The annealed glass panes, just over a centimetre thick, are light green because of their iron content. When viewed straight on, the series of glass panels provides a stunning, 3-D image. “The initial goal was to represent the human form as floating ribbons,” said Malitz. But the real magic begins when the observer walks to the side of the artwork. On the edge of the glass, a crisp, secondary image is produced by the high-powered stage lights, something Malitz, now 48, said his 25 years of training in math, computer science and biotechnology information systems could not have accurately predicted.

His first glass creation, two years ago, was of a woman named “Siren.”

“After I built her, I really got to see the clarity of the edge view,” said Malitz.

It was then that an idea struck Malitz, a “baby” Christian, like a bolt of lightning. What would happen if he used the same glass-sculpting technique to depict the crucifixion?

“That got me to start thinking about depicting Christ as light, as opposed to purely physical and then depicting the light,” Malitz said. “I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I really started thinking about the crucifixion and honouring Him in the best way I could — other than prayer. Once I got started on it, it absolutely consumed me. There was nothing left.”

The crowning achievement of V2 — the crucified Christ, the product of Malitz’s mysteriously growing faith — is right behind the black drapes. And it’s all anyone can talk about.

Over 18 months, using a combination of posed models, photography, raw digital sculpting and “lots of engineering and math calculations,” Malitz produced the blueprint for 21 panes of cut glass. Because the work also included a wood cross, measurements had to be exact so that each pane fit together seamlessly.

Malitz solved one of the most challenging math and engineering problems by using a “telescoping” nail that could adjust its length to tiny variations in the width of the glass and wood panels.

In evening showings, when the studio is mostly dark and the stage lights create just the right effect, the results are visually moving.

“People will come into the gallery and look at the panels I have on the wall, and there seems to be some excitement — and then they turn the corner around this drape and they look at this and that’s it — I have no other art in the gallery from that point on,” Malitz said. “It makes it a little more difficult to market the other things, but I’m OK with that.

“There are a lot of gasps and lot of ‘Oh, my Gods,’ ” Malitz said. “A lot of people spend 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour on this single piece. That’s unusual for a single piece of art.”

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