May 2016 marks the 20th birthday of The Studio, 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.
Denise Stillwaggon Leone studied art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She designs and fabricates architectural art glass commissions for site-specific installations, and has participated in numerous private and public art competitions. Her work can be found in public spaces of universities, hospitals, libraries, and places of worship. She has been teaching image-making courses at The Studio for more than a decade, and her work is in the Museum’s permanent collection.
What has your involvement been with The Studio over the years?
Love affair: I enrolled in a class the first summer the Studio opened. It was an amazing experience to be in a class of four with maestro Jiri Harcuba learning copper wheel engraving. Jiri was a great artist and teacher and I learned more about being an artist from him than any other mentor, as well as my limitations as an engraver.
During the Wednesday night students’ slide show, I presented images of sandblasted and painted glass installations, and afterwards Amy asked if I might like to teach at the Studio. That began my 20 year relationship teaching classes in both summer and winter sessions, and workshops in the spring and fall. I’ve instructed every year since the first, been a student of the Higuchis learning pâte de verre, and was an artist-in-residence in 2000. Thus, with privileged perspectives I’ve witnessed The Studio grow, expand, and evolve into the first-rate program it is today, always improving with age.
What do you like about working at The Studio?
Everything: The director and resident artist, Amy Schwartz and Bill Gudenrath, have created a wonderfully-programmed, finely-equipped studio with a staff that works like clockwork and feels like family. The Studio inculcates a philosophy of shared experience by providing: the opportunity to work closely with great instructors, to learn in small intensive courses, to collaborate, to observe other disciplines hands on, to wander the stacks of the Rakow library and be beneficiary of its excellence and magnanimity, to ask questions and get superb insights from Museum staff, to study the Museum’s collections and enjoy its proximity, to belong to a community, and feel welcome in it. The Studio has enriched my life in more ways than I can say, and I know that this sentiment is shared with the leagues of instructors and students who have crossed its threshold.
As The Studio celebrates its 20th birthday, what would you say about its impact in the glass community?
Peerless: The Studio has created a global community of artists interested in glassmaking. It is renowned and revered, and draws people from all over the world to teach, study, and learn. It is a mecca, the sine qua non of workshops, and an inspirational experience to be a part of The Studio. The residency program has encouraged artists to experiment with and explore the wonderful properties of the medium, leading to greater understanding of glass as an art form. The Corning Museum’s stellar collection instructs and inspires all of us. Comprehensively, The Studio, with all of its brilliant facets, shines most brightly in the constellation of the glass art world.