For the fifth year in a row, The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) is proud to have once again hosted the Expanding Horizons program. Each year, The Studio selects six students in at-risk glass art programs across the country to come to Corning with their mentors and participate in an intensive week-long experience that includes lectures, tours of the Rakow Research Library and amazing CMoG collections, demonstrations by museum staff and visiting artists, and of course, lots of glassblowing here at The Studio.
Many of the students participating in the program come from under-served socioeconomic backgrounds. With the support of the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation, The Studio provides airfare, lodging, and meals for the students and their mentors during their visit.
This year, we hosted Autiana, Lynquell, Deaunata, and Candy from four different glass programs in Chicago, Illinois, Antwon from a program in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and Jack from a program in Tacoma, Washington.
With the help and effort of many talented people in the glass community, programming for at-risk teens and young adults brings complete strangers together and provides them with a unique experience and the chance to build relationships with other members of the glass world. Renowned glass artist Laura Donefer, visiting Corning to teach a class at The Studio that same week, spoke to the Expanding Horizons students about how art has helped provide focus in her own life and career and can be an outlet for coping with traumatic experiences or difficult situations.
“Glass blowing helps you cope with all the crazy things that happen in your life. You get to pour your feelings into your piece and almost make it feel for you. It helps you if you’re feeling bad or down and you can put that into your piece. It can make you feel happy afterwards. If you come into this space and you’re mad, the people around you can make you happy. Sometimes it makes you feel like you’re doing something good with your life. It helps you learn a new way of building yourself.”Deaunata Holman
Later in the week, Alfred University professor and glass artist Angus Powers came in and provided the students with a fun and exciting interactive demonstration, encouraging the students to assist him in making a sculpted glass motorcycle. Following the demonstration, Powers gave a presentation on his glass career, focusing on the different paths the students can take to pursue glass further. Students are also advised on how to apply for residencies, jobs, internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships, how to ask for letters of recommendation and build their resumés. It is our hope that this kind of programming opens the student’s eyes to the many opportunities that the world of glass art can provide.
Another highlight from their busy week was a glassblowing demonstration by The Studio’s Resident Advisor, William Gudenrath, a leading authority on Venetian glass techniques, that left the students with eyes wide and jaws dropped. Gudenrath also donated a selection of pieces to be raffled off to the students at the end of the week.
Aside from tours and lectures, the bulk of the week was spent working in The Studio. Daily glassblowing lessons from Studio staff focused on skill-building, teamwork, and communication. Each student also had the opportunity to lead their own pre-planned lesson and demonstration with their mentors. The final day in The Studio consisted of a series of silly and fun games that pit teams of students against their mentors. Known as the ‘Glass Olympics,’ these games included: competing to drip a gather of molten glass the furthest before it touches the floor, or making a cup as a left-handed glassblower. The funniest, and possibly most challenging contest, is called ‘The Two-headed Glassblower,’ in which teams of two share one very large shirt, and work together to make a glass cup with each glassblower being either the left or right hand.
This was followed by a lesson in packing and shipping glass so that the fruits of everyone’s labor could be shipped safely back home.
It was wonderful to see these students from different cities and different backgrounds arrive in Corning as strangers, build relationships, help and encourage one another in the hot shop, and ultimately leave as friends with a better understanding of how supportive and interconnected the glass world can be.
“Over time, I’ve learned to take all my emotions out on the material, as if the material was the actual problem or challenge that I’m facing. This has taught me to let the studio be my escape from all my troubles. This pushes me to persevere in the face of failure.”
Check out some photos below to see what we were up to!
For more information on courses and opportunities at The Studio, visit here.