Vanessa German and the Gift, the Glory, and the Power of Blue

Artworks at The Corning Museum of Glass come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiniest fragments to installations that take up entire rooms. One new acquisition, Vanessa German’s The Walker; for how to honor the price of compassion—how not to die of lies, fits quite neatly into the middle of that scale. However, that’s the only thing that’s easy to categorize about this beautiful, loud, complex, strong, emotional, and compelling piece of art.

Vanessa German’s The Walker; for how to honor the price of compassion—how not to die of lies (2017), 2020.4.2

The Walker is a larger-than-life-size artwork of a female figure bedecked in blue artifacts standing finely balanced atop a wooden sawhorse with arms outstretched. The glass, wood, beads, fabric, and twine that make up the body of the sculpture are all objects made or found by the artistdelicately crafted, lovingly repurposed, and imbued with significance and purpose.

A self-taught sculptor, activist, poet, and performance artist, German introduced herself, her work, and the arc of her career, to the Museum’s member community during an exclusive talk on April 1, 2021. A recording is now available to everyone on the Museum’s YouTube channel. Over the course of an hour, we learn what inspires and keeps German strong, and how her very existence as a Black woman and artist is represented in each object she creates.

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Finding Significance in Surprising Places: Dustin Yellin, Glass, and an Onscreen Love Affair

In a renovated ironworks factory on Pioneer St. in Red Hook, Brooklyn, you might stumble on the glass studio of California-born artist Dustin Yellin. That’s the premise at least, for a scene I saw in a movie recently where actress Kiersey Clemons does just that. The movie is Hearts Beat Loud (2018) by director Brett Haley, starring Clemons and Nick Offerman.

Actress Kiersey Clemons filming at Dustin Yellin’s studio, Pioneer Works, for the movie Hearts Beat Loud.

Much like the character Clemons plays, I was immediately struck by Yellin’s sculptural work on display. The only difference being, I recognized it. I was suddenly perched forward in my seat, my bowl of popcorn temporarily forgotten, as I absorbed every detail on screen, every word spoken. The scene in question felt significant to me. I often see artists discussed in cinema, but the medium tends to be photography or paint on canvas. As I grow more and more interested in glass, I’ve begun noticing it in movies, like an ad executive might notice product placement. But glass is always in the background, staged purely for decoration or functionality: a beautiful vase perhaps, or a decorative platter standing boldly on a stand.

But here we have the work of a contemporary glass artist being viewed and discussed constructively by characters central to the movie’s plot. Clemons and fellow actress Sasha Lane, whose character works at the studio, bond over the artwork, they study its details and respond to its prompts. It doesn’t just feel significant, it is significant. And, did I mention the movie has Nick Offerman? The highly loveable Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation!

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No Sign of Slowing Down: The Corning Museum of Glass Turns 70!

For America, the 1950s was a decade of highs and lows. In the wake of the second world war, the nation experienced a booming economy, a rapidly growing population, and watched as its cities and suburbs spread across the land to house a new generation. But the 50s were also the dawn of new conflicts, including the Cold War and the fight for Civil Rights.

In the spring of 1951, five people witnessed the unfolding of this new America from the small galleries and offices of the newly opened Corning Museum of Glass. Those five made up the entire staff back then! Conceived as an educational institution entirely separate from its benefactor, Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated), the Museum sought to expand the world’s understanding of glass. And ever since, the Museum has inspired people to see glass in a new light, a mission that remains at the forefront of our institutional culture 70 years later.

The Corning Museum of Glass in 1951.

To celebrate the Museum’s 70th anniversary, we’ve taken a trip through the archives to highlight some unforgettable moments.

So, let’s go back to where it all began.

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When Glass Meets Minimalism: Edward James and His Art Deco Glass Lamps

This blog comes to us from Rose Zhou, Sujin Jung, and Rick Li, MA Conservation Studies students at West Dean College on the south coast of England. Rose, Sujin, and Rick have been interning with The Corning Museum of Glass for the last two months, working virtually with our Conservation Department to learn about glass conservation and what it means to be a conservator in a museum setting. For this post, they have applied that knowledge to examine objects in the college’s collection.

The West Dean College students, (L to R) Rick Li, Rose Zhou, and Sujin Jung, in the Old Library at West Dean.

The global pandemic has impacted a lot of people’s study, work, and life. For us, three conservation students from West Dean College in the UK, our work placements at external conservation labs were interrupted. This is when our tutor reached out to the Conservation Department of The Corning Museum of Glass, who kindly offered us a five-week online work placement from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean!

During these five weeks, Astrid van Giffen, associate conservator, and Lianne Uesato, assistant conservator, from Corning’s Conservation Department customised a brief but fantastic journey into the glass world for us through a series of lectures and demonstrations. With the help from colleagues from other departments at the Museum, we had the chance to peek into a conservator’s daily life to see beyond lab work to the collaborative teamwork among departments. All of these are extremely valuable experiences for us to get a feel for working in a museum.

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No Sign of Slowing Down: The Corning Museum of Glass Turns 70!

For America, the 1950s was a decade of highs and lows. In the wake of the second world war, the nation experienced a booming economy, a rapidly growing population, and watched as its cities and suburbs spread across the land to house a new generation. But the 50s were also the dawn of new conflicts, including the Cold War and the fight for Civil Rights.

In the spring of 1951, five people witnessed the unfolding of this new America from the small galleries and offices of the newly opened Corning Museum of Glass. Those five made up the entire staff back then! Conceived as an educational institution entirely separate from its benefactor, Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated), the Museum sought to expand the world’s understanding of glass. And ever since, the Museum has inspired people to see glass in a new light, a mission that remains at the forefront of our institutional culture 70 years later.

The Corning Museum of Glass in 1951.

To celebrate the Museum’s 70th anniversary, we’ve taken a trip through the archives to highlight some unforgettable moments.

So, let’s go back to where it all began.

Read more →

Curating a Lifetime: Jane Shadel Spillman, a memorial

Jane Shadel Spillman

The Corning Museum of Glass is deeply saddened by the passing of Jane Shadel Spillman, our former curator of American glass who retired in 2013 after a CMoG career that spanned nearly five decades. Jane joined the Museum’s 13-person staff in June 1965 as a research assistant and curator of education and became an internationally recognized expert on American glass, developing the impressive collection we have today.

During her tenure at the Museum, Jane was a prolific author, beginning with Glassmaking: America’s First Industry (1976), a 35-page catalog in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name in celebration of the nation’s bicentennial. It was the Museum’s first major exhibition after the 1972 flood. This was followed by numerous books and catalogs, countless speeches and lectures, and the acquisition of thousands of objects for the Museum’s American glass collection and The Rakow Research Library holdings. Not to mention, the friendships forged across the globe, with glass amateurs and professionals alike, cementing Jane’s reputation as an expert in her field.

“Jane was a force within the glass and museum communities and helped shape our Museum for nearly half a century,” said Karol Wight, president and executive director. “Her contributions—in nearly every area—were numerous, and her impact in the field continues to be felt today.”

Read more →

Blown Away Contestant Cat Burns, a Star on the Rise

Glass artist Cat Burns, had a pretty interesting year in 2020, but she wasn’t able to talk about most of it until now. From studio instructor to TikTok sensation to star contestant on season 2 of the Netflix series Blown Away, Cat’s year was full both on and off the screen.

Cat Burns on the set of Blown Away Season 2. All Blown Away photos by David Leyes for marblemedia.

But it wasn’t always easy. Success, just like glassblowing itself, can take hours, weeks, months, and years to master. Ambition, hard work, dedication, and a belief that you can do anything can lead you to success, and these are all qualities that Cat has in abundance.

While Cat is enjoying her moment in the sun, we carved out a few minutes to ask her about the big reveal and discover what made 2020 so great.

 

What made you decide to apply for Blown Away Season 2?

I decided to try out for Blown Away to challenge myself. I live by a rule that if something scares me, I should try it, just to prove that I can. I applied to the first season and didn’t get in so I honestly applied thinking I wouldn’t get in again.

Read more →

The Life-Saving Work of Glass: Corning’s Valor Glass Houses COVID-19 Vaccine

The lightbulb. Pyrex®. Optical fiber. The catalytic converter. Gorilla® Glass. Valor® Glass. You’ve likely heard of most of these revolutionary innovations in glass, all of which came out of Corning, NY. And although the last one may be unfamiliar to you now, it’s about to serve a very significant purpose: housing and transporting the life-saving vaccine for COVID-19.  

Valor Glass Lab. Photo courtesy of Corning Incorporated.

Corning Incorporated has been on the cutting edge of glass innovation for nearly 170 years, providing solutions to problems and shaping the way we live our daily lives. It’s a company many across the world have never heard of, however, nearly everyone has interacted with technology developed here in this small town of 11,000 people.  

Although you likely don’t realize it, Corning’s technologies have played a role in how we’ve adapted to the COVID-era from the beginning. Never before has there been such an intense need to remain connected while we’re apart. And how have we done that? By interacting with each other through glass displays and transmitting all communications with co-workers, loved ones, and others, via optical fiber. We are literally connected by glass, and so it’s somehow unsurprising—yet immensely remarkable—that Corning’s technology is also on the frontlines of the fight against the virus itself.  

Read more →

No Sign of Slowing Down: The Corning Museum of Glass Turns 70!

For America, the 1950s was a decade of highs and lows. In the wake of the second world war, the nation experienced a booming economy, a rapidly growing population, and watched as its cities and suburbs spread across the land to house a new generation. But the 50s were also the dawn of new conflicts, including the Cold War and the fight for Civil Rights.

In the spring of 1951, five people witnessed the unfolding of this new America from the small galleries and offices of the newly opened Corning Museum of Glass. Those five made up the entire staff back then! Conceived as an educational institution entirely separate from its benefactor, Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated), the Museum sought to expand the world’s understanding of glass. And ever since, the Museum has inspired people to see glass in a new light, a mission that remains at the forefront of our institutional culture 70 years later.

The Corning Museum of Glass in 1951.

To celebrate the Museum’s 70th anniversary, we’ve taken a trip through the archives to highlight some unforgettable moments.

So, let’s go back to where it all began.

Read more →

Curating a Lifetime: Jane Shadel Spillman, a memorial

Jane Shadel Spillman

The Corning Museum of Glass is deeply saddened by the passing of Jane Shadel Spillman, our former curator of American glass who retired in 2013 after a CMoG career that spanned nearly five decades. Jane joined the Museum’s 13-person staff in June 1965 as a research assistant and curator of education and became an internationally recognized expert on American glass, developing the impressive collection we have today.

During her tenure at the Museum, Jane was a prolific author, beginning with Glassmaking: America’s First Industry (1976), a 35-page catalog in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name in celebration of the nation’s bicentennial. It was the Museum’s first major exhibition after the 1972 flood. This was followed by numerous books and catalogs, countless speeches and lectures, and the acquisition of thousands of objects for the Museum’s American glass collection and The Rakow Research Library holdings. Not to mention, the friendships forged across the globe, with glass amateurs and professionals alike, cementing Jane’s reputation as an expert in her field.

“Jane was a force within the glass and museum communities and helped shape our Museum for nearly half a century,” said Karol Wight, president and executive director. “Her contributions—in nearly every area—were numerous, and her impact in the field continues to be felt today.”

Read more →

Blown Away Contestant Cat Burns, a Star on the Rise

Glass artist Cat Burns, had a pretty interesting year in 2020, but she wasn’t able to talk about most of it until now. From studio instructor to TikTok sensation to star contestant on season 2 of the Netflix series Blown Away, Cat’s year was full both on and off the screen.

Cat Burns on the set of Blown Away Season 2. All Blown Away photos by David Leyes for marblemedia.

But it wasn’t always easy. Success, just like glassblowing itself, can take hours, weeks, months, and years to master. Ambition, hard work, dedication, and a belief that you can do anything can lead you to success, and these are all qualities that Cat has in abundance.

While Cat is enjoying her moment in the sun, we carved out a few minutes to ask her about the big reveal and discover what made 2020 so great.

 

What made you decide to apply for Blown Away Season 2?

I decided to try out for Blown Away to challenge myself. I live by a rule that if something scares me, I should try it, just to prove that I can. I applied to the first season and didn’t get in so I honestly applied thinking I wouldn’t get in again.

Read more →

The Life-Saving Work of Glass: Corning’s Valor Glass Houses COVID-19 Vaccine

The lightbulb. Pyrex®. Optical fiber. The catalytic converter. Gorilla® Glass. Valor® Glass. You’ve likely heard of most of these revolutionary innovations in glass, all of which came out of Corning, NY. And although the last one may be unfamiliar to you now, it’s about to serve a very significant purpose: housing and transporting the life-saving vaccine for COVID-19.  

Valor Glass Lab. Photo courtesy of Corning Incorporated.

Corning Incorporated has been on the cutting edge of glass innovation for nearly 170 years, providing solutions to problems and shaping the way we live our daily lives. It’s a company many across the world have never heard of, however, nearly everyone has interacted with technology developed here in this small town of 11,000 people.  

Although you likely don’t realize it, Corning’s technologies have played a role in how we’ve adapted to the COVID-era from the beginning. Never before has there been such an intense need to remain connected while we’re apart. And how have we done that? By interacting with each other through glass displays and transmitting all communications with co-workers, loved ones, and others, via optical fiber. We are literally connected by glass, and so it’s somehow unsurprising—yet immensely remarkable—that Corning’s technology is also on the frontlines of the fight against the virus itself.  

Read more →