May 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, one of the foremost teaching schools for glass in the world. To celebrate, we are featuring 20 artists in the 20 weeks leading up to the birthday. These artists have studied, taught, and created at The Studio. Each Saturday, we’ll share words and work from the artists who have formed a connection with our Studio and our staff.
Laura Donefer has used glass as her primary medium for more than 30 years, combining it with diverse materials. She was trained as a glass artist at Sheridan College School of Craft and Design. Later, she taught at Sheridan, in addition to Espace Verre, in Montreal. Her work has been exhibited at Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Japan, Museo de Vidrio in Mexico, the Museum of Fine Art in Montreal, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, and the Museum of Fine Art in Quebec City. She is president of the Glass Art Association of Canada and organizer of the famed “Glass Fashion Shows.”
A personal note from Laura: The first time I stepped foot into The Corning Museum of Glass was in 1982. As a first year glass student from Toronto, just learning about the rapture of glass, it was as if I had walked into paradise. Wandering around the museum investigating the hundreds of glass pieces on display was a remarkable experience that has never left my memory. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to spend my life working with this time-honored and magical material, and I felt that The Corning Museum of Glass was the birthplace of my glass self!
Fast forward to 1997 when I got my first call from The Studio inviting me to teach a class. It was truly an honor to be contacted and that summer was the beginning of a long and totally wonderful relationship with The Studio as well as with CMoG. Subsequently, I have taught many classes there, and even though I have greatly slowed down my teaching schedule, I could not say no to The Studio in 2017, so the bond continues! Many changes have taken place over the years and The Studio is truly a world-class place to take a glass class! A few years ago, I was privileged enough to be an artist-in-residence at The Studio along with my friend and collaborator Jeff Mack and we found the experience extremely positive and life changing.
Working at The Studio is like nowhere else in the glass world! Yes, the glory holes are hot and the furnace is roaring and the annealers are huge, but that is where the comparisons stop. Where on your lunch break from glass class can you pop into the Frederick Carder room and study the most amazing vessels created out of sensational colors. Or take the students on a private tour with the renowned glass expert Bill Gudenrath and have him wax oh so eloquently about the history of the Portland Vase! And for years it was possible to take my class on a secret tour under the floor of the Steuben hot shop, to see how the gaffers really got the lead glass onto their blowpipes. Truly awe inspiring! Having the museum as a learning tool along with all of the people who work there, as well as the Rakow Library for research, makes being a student at The Studio second to none. There are many reasons why people flock to take classes at The Studio, the equipment, the atmosphere, the preeminent glass artists on the planet as faculty, and the ability to be a part of The Corning Museum of Glass magic.
In my opinion, the impact that The Studio has had on the glass world is immeasurable! The Studio provides a positive learning atmosphere giving absolute beginners a safe place to begin their glass journey while offering challenging and stimulating classes for advanced glass artists. The Corning Museum of Glass serves as the backdrop for research and inspiration, with access to the entirety of glass history as stimulation. It is a mind boggling glass adventure coming to The Studio, and I trust that many more generations of glass enthusiasts will join the ranks of the converted. Congratulations to all who have been instrumental in keeping The Studio alive, and may there be 20 more wonderful years to look forward to!