The Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds from the Rakow Library exhibition at The Corning Museum of Glass’ Rakow Research Library is filled with objects and stories that inspire. In a previous blog post, I’ve written about the glass eyes that inspired our daily flameworked eye demo in the Museum’s Innovation Center. In the course of researching glass eyes for this demo, I happened across some interesting stories, and I’ll tell you about one that I find particularly curious and delightful. Read more →
Since beginning my internship at the Rakow Research Library, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by their collections every day. One of the most interesting I’ve come across so far is Katharine Lamb Tait’s archive. In this collection of close to 30 boxes, there’s everything from Tait’s sketches for stained glass window designs to her diploma to her purse. It’s a unique insight into the life of an artist that people rarely get to see.
Katharine Lamb Tait was born into an artistic family in June 1895. The family owned and operated a stained glass studio, J&R Lamb Studios. The studio was founded by Tait’s grandfather, Joseph Lamb, and great-uncle, Richard Lamb. Charles Rollinson Lamb, Katharine’s father, was an architect and designer, as well as the president of J&R Lamb Studios. Her mother, Ella Condie Lamb, was an artist and stained glass designer in her own right. Tait commented that “being brought up in that atmosphere, I wanted to be an artist, of course, because my mother was a painter.” She would also realize that her father’s designs had a strong influence on her as an artist, making him the “best teacher.” After graduating the Friends Seminary in New York City, Tait continued her education at the Arts Student League of New York. She also studied design at Columbia University, the National Academy of Design, and Cooper Union, and taught design for multiple years. Read more →
The Corning Museum of Glass has one of the finest and most extensive collections of historic European glass in the world. As curator of these objects, I’m constantly enthralled by the craftsmanship and technology they embody and the glimpses they give us of the lives and customs of the people who made and used them. However, when peering through a glass vitrine at rows of empty drinking vessels, it is sometimes difficult to imagine their stories beyond the Museum. Our new Raise a Glass! video installation now provides visitors with some of this missing context.
Thankfully, glass drinking vessels of many types have been depicted in works of art since ancient times. From wall frescoes excavated in Pompeii, to illustrated medieval manuscripts and Dutch still life paintings, there is a remarkably consistent visual record of glass, showing the drinking customs of different societies throughout history.
We began by taking a focus on paintings from the 1600s and 1700s and found paintings that depicted glass drinking vessels in use, in collections as close by as the Arnot Museum in neighboring Elmira, and as far away as Buckingham Palace in London and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. After obtaining permission to use high-resolution images of these works, our Digital Media team created a video montage which first presents the full image of a painting, and then zooms in on the glassware. On a shelf directly in front of the video monitor we’ve set out a selection of drinking vessels from the collection that are close matches to those in the changing images.
These lively views into the past reveal the importance of communal drinking in social life, ceremonies and celebrations throughout history. We can see what sort of wine or beer was consumed from which types of glassware, how they were served and, often more intriguingly, how they were held. Intricately crafted glassware that might seem to have been made only for display turns out, in fact, to have been effortlessly handled by drinkers of its time. Take this wineglass with a twisted, pretzel-like stem, probably made in the Netherlands during the 1600s, as an example. In fact, being able to successfully hold and drink from challenging vessels like this was considered a mark of accomplishment.
Putting this display together has been enormous fun and we really hope visitors will enjoy making the connections for themselves, and consider how they use their own drinking vessels at home.
The Corning Museum of Glass has so many opportunities for artists that it can be hard to keep track of everything that is happening here. For instance, did you know that The Museum offers five distinct types of residencies for artists?
Why five different types? Because artist needs vary greatly. If you’re an artist looking for a space to create innovative ideas or research historical glass, test different material approaches or discover more about the science of glass, The Corning Museum of Glass and The Studio have a residency that will fit for you.
About her recent month-long residency, Wendy Yothers said, “The magic combination that fosters it best includes passion, problem solving (technical and esthetic), a safe, productive work environment, and time. At The Studio, you have aligned the planets so this magic can happen every session, spontaneously and predictably.”
Are you a professional working artist who would like to be a resident artist? Below is a small bit about each residency. Read more →