Jutta-Annette Page holds a PhD and MA in the history of art and architecture from Brown University, an MAE in jewelry, metalsmithing, and industrial design from Rhode Island School of Design, and an MA and BA in visual communication and art from Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in Germany. She was the curator of European glass at The Corning Museum of Glass from 1993 to 2003, and is currently the Curator of Glass and Curator of Decorative Arts at the Toledo Museum of Art.
A respected author in her field, Page has completed numerous publications and lectured extensively on a broad range of topics. During the 45th Annual GAS Conference in June, she will be presented with an Honorary Lifetime Membership Award. We recently sat down to ask her a few questions.
You have an MAE in jewelry, metalsmithing, and industrial design from Rhode Island School of Design. How has being a maker influenced your curatorial work? My background as a maker is very specific. Metalwork and three-dimensional designhas been a personal fit for me – I have experimented with the other “fire arts,” ceramics and glass, just enough to know that those materials do not suit me. I cannot imagine my curatorial career in decorative arts, focusing on objects, without having had that very tangible work experience. My training in metalwork, both in Europe and in the United States, also drilled into me a work ethic of perseverance, hard work, and learning from failure. My most influential teacher was the Viennese jeweler Peter Skubic, whose technically and aesthetically sophisticated jewelry and small sculptures were made with the most fundamental tools that have been part of the jeweler’s repertory for centuries. ‘Less is more’ still holds true for me, and my personal taste is therefore predisposed towards a minimalist aesthetic. As a curator, it is important to understand one’s limits. When David Whitehouse, then director of CMoG, once told me I would be in danger of becoming known as the curator of bad taste after having acquired several Victorian works for the collection embellished with “soup-to-nuts” glass decorating techniques, I took that as a personal compliment.
Where did your interest in glass originate? I grew up in Cologne, a large city on the Rhine in Germany. While the city was still showing deep scars from the bombings of WWII, by the 1960s it had become both the center for the international avant-garde art market as well as a hot bed for experimental music. One of the museum pieces that most fascinated me as a child was a delicately carved glass cage cup, an icon of Roman glassmaking, in the excellent archaeological museum. Although I have always appreciated glass with a magpie attraction, I would be remiss not to admit that my professional introduction to glass began with the day I was offered the position of curator of European glass at CMoG. Needless to say, I had to hit the ground running…
The topics you’ve written and lectured about are incredibly (and impressively) broad. What commonalities do those topics share that most interest you? I am drawn to subjects that are challenging, that promise to break new ground, and provide new insights. As with all research, for the number of successfully concluded projects there are many more that do not lead anywhere. Failure can be just as useful for learning and providing new direction. I am particularly interested in making connections that have not been explored before.
How has your involvement with the Glass Art Society informed your understanding of the glass arts? During the 10 years on the Board I had the great privilege to meet and interact with lots of artists from across the globe. That interaction during conference calls and meetings in person provided me with a much more in-depth understanding of artists’ national concerns and the international networks within which they were operating. I never would have been able to develop the same depth of exposure to the field if left to the more traditional connections of a curator – serving on the GAS Board was learning about and living contemporary glass in real time.
Can you talk a bit about your connection to Corning, and what it means to be coming back for GAS this year? CMoG and its great library have a central role in learning and researching any topic relating to the material glass. I have never lost my connections to the institution for obvious professional reasons and have been back a number of times. However, every visit is different. This is my third GAS conference in Corning and I expect it to yield as many surprises as during the previous events.
GAS awarded its first Honorary Life Membership Awards at The Corning Museum of Glass in 1976. How does it feel to be receiving this award, particularly given your long-time connection to both GAS and CMoG? I am profoundly honored, especially since I am receiving the award at the same time as Jamie Carpenter will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement award. Ever since I attended a lecture by Jamie at RISD as a student I have been hugely impressed. Mind you, that was before I was even interested in glass as an artistic medium. Last year, I had occasion to see his firm’s newly envisioned expansion and entrance design of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and I more than ever admire his sensitive approach to light and glass in architecture. A big shout-out to my fellow award winner!