Spring 2012

Anthropologist as artist



Anthropologist as artist
JONATHAN COHEN
Biological anthropologist Chris Reiber works in stained glass. She made this lamp to match the decor in her home.

As a biological anthropologist, Chris Reiber looks at diseases, disorders and behaviors that affect women’s health and asks, “why?” As an artist, she is more likely to ask, “Why not?”

Reiber’s art is stained glass. As a child, she says, “I was mesmerized by the light and colors” of the windows in church. Then, 10 years ago, her husband gave her a gift — a class and the tools to get started.

Her first piece was a framed orchid — 19 pieces in all. Reiber liked it, but …

“I had these grand images in my mind about what I wanted to do,” she says.

Reiber acquired power tools and a library of panes of colored glass. Then she sketched and cut a pattern of her own design. The creation, only her second, contains nearly 400 pieces of glass, each chosen for its individual color, vibrancy and texture.

Since then, she’s made other pieces; the lamp, shown in the photo, was crafted to match her furniture.

Reiber relishes problem-solving in both disciplines.

“Science is creative,” she says. “I think I see things a different way. My women’s health work looks at problems that people have been looking at for centuries, but by coming at it with a different focus, it often makes sense of a complexity that people couldn’t fit together.

“These kinds of things are the same,” she says of art. “This is building a puzzle with pieces of glass. It’s creating a pattern, cutting the pieces, putting the puzzle back together with the real pieces of glass and making it stable.”

Know a faculty or staff member with an interesting “other side”? E-mail us at magazine@binghamton.edu.