“Glass helped me become who I am today.” Hector Maldonado made this announcement during a panel discussion on at-risk youth at the Glass Art Society conference this past June here in Corning. Last July, Maldonado, now 19, participated in the inaugural year of Expanding Horizons at The Studio, a week-long workshop for underserved youth that immerses students in what it will take to become a professional glassworker.
Expanding Horizons, in partnership with the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation, hosted six students along with their mentors from high school programs across the nation, provided them with scholarships that covered travel, room, board and classes. Students were busy from 9 to 9 on most days as we attempted to cram in as much information and technique as we could. The students not only worked in the hot shop for hours each day, they also toured the museum and the library, met with our museum buyer, staff from our communications team, the editor of Glass Quarterly, a college glass program professor, an active glass collector, The Studio’s photographer, and they even squeezed time in to do a hot glass demonstration.
Maldonado said that the experience helped him discover a bigger world, one of “art, education, travel, opportunities, and people – other glass artists.” This July, the Museum will host its second group of students for Expanding Horizons. This time seven students and their mentors will head to Corning to learn about the practical side of becoming glass artists, like marketing and selling their work, as well as the creative side and building on their current skills.
This year’s class will include a former student as a mentor. In 2015, Nkosi Barber participated in Expanding Horizons through the Little Black Pearl program in Chicago. This year, Barber is mentoring a current student from Chicago’s Project Fire program.
Students from the 2015 class left an impression on us with their passion, enthusiasm, and dedication. Barber, Maldonado — who just finished his first year of college, and the other students left the program with the groundwork for a career in glass, whether that means more schooling, teaching others, or selling their work. We can’t wait to see what this year’s students will bring.