Sue Schwartz has been a longtime friend to the Museum, generously supporting programs at The Studio that foster learning, creativity, and talent in emerging artists. After her husband, Tom, passed away, Sue began looking for ways to get more deeply involved with a material that had become an integral part of both their lives: glass.
Tom worked his way up through what was then Corning Glass Works and became a plant manager, first in Greenville, Ohio, then in State College, Pennsylvania. Sue obtained a degree in music from Oberlin College and had dreams of playing the French horn in a symphony orchestra, but at the time, the only female member of an orchestra was the harpist. She decided to teach instead, and when they moved to State College, she attended Pennsylvania State University to get her doctorate in architectural history.
While Tom spent his life looking at glass from a manufacturing standpoint, after his death, Sue became intrigued by the Studio Glass movement and what artists were doing with the material. “I thought, ‘What can I do that would have been of interest to him, too?’” she says. “So I started collecting Studio Glass.”
Over the years, Sue has amassed an impressive collection of glass that focuses on technique so that it may be used to teach, complete with works by Toots Zynsky, Bertil Vallien, and many others. Styles and techniques are as diverse as the artists represented.
“Glass is a material that has so many possibilities,” she says. “You can have one piece that’s pâte de verre and another that’s optical. You can polish glass and make it look shiny, or you can rough it up. It’s an interesting material.”
As a collector, Sue closely follows the careers and documents the progress of her favorites, such as Australian artist Nick Mount. Sue also tries to collect pieces created by husbands and wives. If both work in glass, she ensures both are represented in her collection—including The Studio’s Bill Gudenrath and Amy Schwartz.
Sue met Bill and Amy more than a decade ago, shortly after they arrived in Corning to start The Studio. “Sue knew she wanted to support the development of artists while doing something to honor the memory of her husband,” says Amy Schwartz, director of The Studio. “She and I worked closely together to determine the best way to do that.”
As a result, Sue established The Silver Trout Fund at The Studio to help fund the Artists-in-Residence program. “She has supported so many of our programs and equipment, as well as the development of individual artists,” says Amy. “We are so fortunate to have Sue as a friend!”
Sue enjoys traveling with the Ennion Society, combining her love of glass and architecture as the group explores new cities and small towns. Highlights for Sue are meeting artists in their studios. She fondly remembers visiting Lino Tagliapietra during an Ennion Society trip to Venice.