This recurring blog series will feature virtual gallery walks with staff members from The Corning Museum of Glass. Everyone at our Museum interacts with the collection in different ways depending on the job they do and the perspective they bring. Hear from fascinating people and learn about their favorite objects as they provide a virtual peek at some of the treasures in our collection—and make plans to come see them in person when we reopen! This final entry in the series comes from Amy Schwartz, Director of The Studio
Over my 25 years in the Museum family as the Director of The Studio, I have been privileged to witness so many amazing artists make their mark.
In my virtual journey through The Corning Museum of Glass, I revisit friends and recall fond memories as I encounter each of these works of art again.
FROM STUDENT TO MASTER: THE IMPORTANCE OF LIFTING EACH OTHER UP
When I first saw Rui Sasaki’s glass installation, Liquid Sunshine/I am a Pluviophile, it hugely excited me: it was both beautiful and incredibly interesting. I saw it with Rui just after it was installed. We stood together in the dark and I was overcome with the magic of the glowing glass. It was so powerful and beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Art has the ability to stir emotion. This luminescent work reminded me of another favorite of mine–the natural phenomena of the aurora borealis. It was a breathtaking installation! I felt proud seeing how much Rui had achieved and that we at The Studio had played a part in supporting her on her journey as an artist.
I met Rui more than fifteen years ago when she was a student at the Toyama Institute of Glass Art in Japan. She was recommended to me by a friend in Japan, who supported a scholarship to send Rui to a class at The Studio. I was impressed by her then, and we kept in touch. Rui became an Artist-in-Residence at The Studio in 2018, was the 33rd Rakow Commission Recipient, and her work was showcased in the 2019 exhibition, New Glass Now.
The Studio has supported over 100 artists in our residency program over the years and seeing Rui’s work in New Glass Now and as the Rakow Commission was wonderful confirmation that our residency program helps artists reach their potential to make works in glass.
LOOKING CLOSER: THE BEAUTY OF SMALL OBJECTS
I love exploring the minute details in Paul Stankard’s orbs and paperweights. Looking at Paul’s work has taught me to slow down, look closer, and appreciate the beauty of small things. Just as I’m stopped in my tracks during botanical garden visits by some particularly arresting colors or forms, Paul’s work is endlessly surprising and invites repeated marvel.
In the early days at The Studio, Paul was an invaluable creative partner and supporter. He called me often, gave me ideas, and encouraged me in creating new programming. He rallied his network of collectors and friends to donate to a flameworking scholarship fund for The Studio. The impact is enduring; many students have benefited from that campaign.
Paul was an early supporter of the functional glass community. He realized that there are many ways people come to flameworking and he was welcoming to all of them. He recommended many talented students, artists, and instructors to The Studio. Through glass, he saw opportunities to connect with and help others grow. He saw an opportunity to help others.
Paul is one individual who has made a tremendous impact in shaping the success of The Studio, the studio glass movement, and flameworking. My experience with Paul inspired me to see potential in so many others, by slowing down and looking closer at their gifts and abilities.
EVERYONE CAN BE A GLASSMAKER: THE WONDER OF INCLUSIVITY
Jiří Harcuba was most interested in creating abstract impressions in his portraits, but he could engrave anything and anyone in perfect detail. In fact, maybe that’s part of what appeals to me so much about Jiří’s work: the conflicts between the realism of which he was capable—always stunning—and the abstraction that he let flow from his unedited stream of consciousness. For me, that’s what made his work transcend his craft and skill to heavenly spheres.
I have always loved engraving and cold working. Even though there aren’t too many engravers out there, The Studio has kept up its engraving program since Jiří started it in 1997. We have welcomed many talented engravers and engraving students as part of the program since then.
As soon as we met, Jiří and I became fast friends. He began annual trips to The Studio to teach, spending three weeks in Corning every year until he passed away in 2013. Jiří described himself as the “Johnny Appleseed” of engraving, delivering lathes, and traveling to teach. He had an inviting approach, professing that everyone could do it. He would begin his classes with Zen drawings, encouraging students to look at something, close their eyes, and then draw. In 1999, Jiří invited me to a symposium in the Czech Republic. I arrived with my three-year-old daughter Sophia in tow, and Jiří encouraged her to engrave on a plate of glass. He loved the result so much that he included A Cow Browsing in the Strawberries (titled by Sophia), in a museum exhibition in Kamenický Šenov. After that, he began every one of his lectures at The Studio with an image of Sophia’s work, and he used her as an example that everyone could engrave.
Because of Jiří, we invited engravers from all over the world to teach at The Studio. Even though he is no longer with us, we try to carry on his Johnny Appleseed legacy of engraving and encourage every potential glassmaker who comes through our doors.
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER AND MAKING THINGS HAPPEN: THE POWER OF COLLABORATION
While touring the Museum’s collection in 1998, I was surprised and delighted to see Aurora on display in the Heineman Gallery. I have a very personal connection to this work, having organized the session to create it and, then, assist Lino Tagliapietra during that session. Something I have always done is to bring people together to make things happen.
In the early 1990s, I was a glassblowing student at the New York Experimental Glass Workshop (now UrbanGlass). Lino was a good friend and spent a lot of time in New York in those years. Dorothy Hafner, a renowned ceramic designer, aspired to make designs based on mid-20th century glass. I was able to organize a blowing session in which Lino realized some of Dorothy’s designs. In addition, I was thrilled to be one of the assistants for that project. The project came full circle when I saw that it had been added to the Museum’s collection and that it was on display. The collaboration between Dorothy and Lino was one of the first collaborations that I helped arrange. Since then, I’ve worked to help artists collaborate with each other at The Studio through our many residency programs.
Community, through collaboration, support, and learning, is at the heart of what The Studio does and what is most important to me. Great work happens when different artists can get together and have the opportunity and the facility to create. The Studio strives to provide and nurture these kinds of opportunities. I look forward to our reopening and once again seeing glass and friendships being made at The Studio.
This is the final entry in the ‘Virtual Journeys’ series. We hope you’ve enjoyed this unique look into our collections from staff who function across many different departments and bring many different perspectives. Click here to read the previous post in this series by the Museum’s guest services supervisor, Nick Simons.
We look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum soon!