Island Universe is a monumental installation of five hanging sculptures inspired by the multiverse scenario of eternal inflation, an extension of the big bang theory. Made of chromed metal, transparent handblown glass, and light, the structures are modeled on an iconic midcentury design object: the chandeliers of the Metropolitan Opera in New York made by J. & L. Lobmeyr in Vienna in 1965. Each sculpture pictures a different potential universe where their spheres represent clusters of galaxies and their lights evoke quasars—the brightest objects in the universe—all carefully placed according to measurements marking the history of time. McElheny’s related film, Conceptual drawings for a chandelier, 1965, will be shown together with the exhibition.
Island Universe is organized in coordination with Rice University’s School of Humanities, which has invited McElheny to deliver the prestigious Campbell Lecture Series. On March 20, 21, and 22, McElheny will deliver a three-night lecture/performance that is free and open to the public.
Island Universe is sponsored in part by the generous support of Leslie and Brad Bucher.