Josiah McElheny, American, born 1966
hand-blown glass, chrome plated aluminum, rigging, and electrical lighting
Museum purchase with funds provided by Jan and Howard Hendler
© Phoenix Art Museum. All rights reserved. Photo by Ken Howie.
North Wing, Greenbaum Lobby
The second sculpture in the artist’s Big Bang Series, The Last Scattering Surface attempts to explain the creation of the universe. The bright center with radiating extensions alludes to the Big Bang Theory, which posits that the universe emerged rapidly from an extremely dense state 14 billion years ago.
The scientific term “last scattering surface” describes the moment when the universe transitioned from opaque to transparent – that is, when light particles that filled the early cosmos separated from normal matter and began to gravel freely though space.
McElheny’s use of glass, metal, and electric lighting refers to the industrial world. He based the sculpture’s minimal form upon the designs for a chandelier commissioned for New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House in 1965.