As a boy growing up near Corning, NY, David C. Burger visited The Corning Museum of Glass numerous times. He loved to watch the Steuben glassblowers at work. He decided that someday he would attempt glassblowing himself. When he was sixteen years old, he was invited to apply for and was accepted into, a one-year program combining his senior year in high school and his freshman year in college at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village, New York City. After attending Columbia College and law school, clerking for a federal judge, and then beginning work as a litigation attorney in NYC, David finally had the opportunity to try glassblowing.
He learned about the Experimental Glass Workshop (EGW) in Manhattan and signed up for an initial glassblowing class. He came to know William (Bill) Gudenrath, a glass artist intimately involved with EGW, and Amy Schwartz, who was also taking a glassblowing class there. Coincidentally, this is when Amy and Bill—who married and left NYC to build and run The Studio at the Museum—first became acquainted.
David subsequently joined the EGW board of directors and served as chairman for several years during which time the name of the organization was changed to Urbanglass. He also became a good friend of Bill’s and acquired a large collection of his glass.
Sometime in the 1970s, David saw a photograph of a piece of Ruba Rombic glass, a style of glass only made between 1928 and 1932, and immediately decided that he would form a collection of it. By happenstance, many pieces of Ruba Rombic were available in the 1980s and David managed to assemble a collection of over 50 pieces. Then, he learned of a collection of 40+ works for sale only as a group. By further happenstance, there were no exact duplicates of any pieces already in his collection except for one fishbowl which the sellers agreed could be excluded from the sale. David purchased the additional collection and now has over 100 pieces, including examples of every piece of Ruba Rombic ever sold.
David also has a collection of Steuben glass, including a rare Black & White Cluthra Paperweight Cologne Bottle. Another highlight in his collection is a Frank Lloyd Wright window which is a slight variant of the four windows at each end of the windows in the living room of the same house which is now in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum. The window is the perfect height to fit in otherwise unused portions of the frame for a sliding glass window in David’s Far West Greenwich Village apartment. The triangular pieces of the glass mimic the triangular portions of the roofs of the Westbeth Artists’ Loft Housing created in the old Bell Telephone Laboratories building and of the roofs and triangular terrace in Hudson Yards buildings visible from the window.
David’s connection to Corning has grown over the years, as has his desire to foster the next generation of young glassmakers. He became an Ennion Society member in 2004. David then established The $100,000 David C. Burger Endowment Fund in 2019 to support the development of young glass artists under 30 from the Corning region, allowing them to work at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass and further improve their practice.
Using this fund, The Studio has created the Regional Young Artist Scholarship, and the inaugural residency has been awarded to Jason Hitchcock. Jason is a hard-working emerging artist living in Corning, whose work is inspired by the oceans and the natural beauty found beneath the waves.
“This generous donation from David Burger has given me an opportunity to expand my knowledge and expertise as a flameworker/glassblower,” Jason said. “From renting time to taking classes here at The Studio, I’m able to continue pursuing what I love. This donation has really helped give me time to focus on building my work. Also, it’s been an excellent boost of motivation to keep creating and pursuing this art form.”