As part of a year-long celebration of the United Nations International Year of Glass, the American Ceramic Society hosted the National Day of Glass Conference on April 5-7 in Washington, DC. Our own Karol Wight, president and executive director, was invited to speak.
This is the first time that the UN has recognized a material for this distinction, but it comes as no surprise for glass aficionados. Glass is at once ancient and futuristic, simple yet incredibly complex, and touches so many aspects of modern life, including science, technology, engineering, education, medicine, and, not least of all, art.
Upon her return, Karol was eager to share her thoughts about the conference.
Karol, how did you get involved in the National Day of Glass?
“When the initiative was underway to have the United Nations General Assembly declare 2022 as the International Year of Glass, a parallel effort was developed to address the many conferences and gatherings of professional glass-related organizations that met each year and modify their programming to celebrate the year. So, to that end, the organizers of the American Ceramic Society annual conference determined to convert their annual gathering into a significant conference to be held in Washington DC, and to expand their usual programming to include artists and museum professionals—for example, me.”
How does the National Day of Glass programming fit into the backdrop of 2022 as the United Nations International Year of Glass?
“This conference was really the ‘big event’ for North America, and similar conferences are being held globally. The programming kicked off in February with an International Year of Glass opening ceremony and conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, in the Palace of Nations.”
What did you present?
“I was invited to present a paper at the conference by two of the program organizers, Drs. Kathleen Richardson and David Pye. Because of my position at The Corning Museum of Glass, and my academic background and training as an art historian and curator, I chose the rather ambitious topic of 35 centuries of creativity and innovation on the part of the historical and present craftspeople and artists, presented in 20 minutes. With the help of our staff—and I give a huge shout out to the curators, editors, and events folks who aided me—I was able to hit the target. My talk was illustrated only with works from our collection, which I felt was a great demonstration of the strength and beauty of our holdings here at the Museum.”
What were your impressions of the conference?
“The conference itself was wonderful. It was well organized, on time, and a great mixture of science, technology, engineering, and art. For many of us, it was our first in-person conference since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it felt great to be in person. Our opening reception, sponsored by Corning Incorporated and held at the National Academy of Sciences, was memorable as it was held in such an amazing location.”
What highlights stood out to you?
“One of my biggest take-aways from the conference was the mutual respect and appreciation among all who were present, particularly from the scientists towards the artists. There was appreciation expressed for the different work we do and how we approach glass as a material. I sincerely hope that one of the outcomes of this conference, and others like it being held throughout the year, is that this mix of communities continues forward as we all have so much to learn from one another.”
Recordings of many of the presentations made during the National Day of Glass Conference are now available to the public at no charge, visit the American Ceramic Society’s website to view the full list.
To learn more about the origins of the International Year of Glass, check out our earlier blog post.