Exhibit: Christopher Ries at Hawk Galleries

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Satellite lenses and astronauts' cameras are made out of special optic crystal produced by the Schott glass company (good name, right?).

Closer to home, Christopher Ries uses the same material to transport the senses in his luminous sculptures.

While the obvious medium for his art is glass, light is also an integral part of the work.

The Columbus native and Ohio State graduate prefers Schott's glass because it transmits 99.8 percent of light that strikes it. In comparison, the glass in normal windows transmits only 70 percent.

The near perfection of the glass allows his clear pieces to have a diamond-like ability to sparkle and scatter light as well as to create internal reflections and illusions. Inside the crystal, waves and shapes create a sense of movement.

"When you take a solid piece of optical glass and you cut it and grind it and polish it into forms, you start to see how the light travels within it," explained Ries, who now lives near the Schott factory in Duryea, Pennsylvania.

And his sculpture glows as if emitting light.

"It becomes a lamp," he said of his clear sculpture. "It reflects the light back out. It illuminates the room."

Ries also shapes brilliantly colored blocks of glass into clean, elegant objects. The rich colors draw the eye into each work, creating an introspective effect a hypnotist could use to lull a subject into a trance.

The centerpiece of Ries' current exhibition at Hawk Galleries is "Invictus," a 2,000-pound blue monolith that creates an optical illusion. When two people stand on either side of the circle, equidistant from the glass, it appears as though they're standing right next to each other in the resulting reflections.

A bit smaller than "Invictus," the emerald-hued "Celtic Jewel" has a faceted shape that produces a sense of worlds within worlds.

"With Ries, the larger pieces create almost an 'Alice in Wonderland' experience," said Tom Hawk, owner of Hawk Galleries and an acquaintance of Ries' for about 25 years. "You find yourself drawn into the internal fourth dimension. All you have to do is walk around the piece half a turn, and you're experiencing a whole different illusion."

Christopher Ries

Through Jan. 2

Hawk Galleries

153 E. Main St., Downtown