Will you be visiting The Corning Museum of Glass during Pride month this year? Then why not try our new, self-guided Pride Tour through the galleries to discover glass objects through an LGBTQIA+* lens. Some stops on the tour show the long history of queerness and the diversity of human sexuality across time, while other stops offer contemporary, Pride-inspired takes on historical objects. The tour was put together thanks to a joint effort by the Museum’s Curatorial and Education Departments.
Each of the objects on the tour has a unique story to tell. Follow the links to learn more about each object or pick up a gallery guide on your next visit and see if you can find them all yourself.
The encoded images on these goblets may have celebrated existing homosexual relationships or signaled openness to a physical relationship with a member of the same gender. Object: Covered Goblet (79.3.553) Location: 35 Centuries of Glass, Changing Exhibitions
Fun Fact: This goblet is just one of the many objects now on display in Past | Present: Expanding the Stories of Glass, the Musem’s major exhibition in 2022. Past | Present provides ways for guests to connect with the past as they consider shared human experiences then and now.
The Pharaoh Akhenaten changed the traditional, rigid style of Egyptian royal portraiture to softer, rounder forms. Some researchers think Akhenaten, whose portraits often show full breasts and a round belly, may have been (in today’s terms) transgender or gender fluid. Object: Portrait Inlay of Pharaoh Akhenaten (2012.1.2) Location: 35 Centuries of Glass, Ancient Gallery
This figure has the traditional hairstyle and clothing of a Roman woman, but the name Anatolius and short beard are masculine attributes. Androgyny, expressed by features of both male and female genders, is common in Roman art. Object: Medallion with Portrait (90.1.3) Location: 35 Centuries of Glass, Roman Gallery
Can you spot the tiny, sparkling flecks of glitter in these objects? Glitter is common in queer nightlife such as drag, burlesque, and cabaret. It’s a way of subverting gender presentation and signaling queer identities. The sparkling effects of these glasses are caused by copper particles suspended in the glass. Object: Cruet Set (2017.3.9) Location: 35 Centuries of Glass, Venetian Gallery
The ombre shades of pink in this peachblow vessel are caused by the varied interaction of gold particles in the glass with the heat of the furnace. The colors resemble the shades of red, orange, white, and pink of the Lesbian Pride Flag, which embraces butch, feminine, and trans women. Object: Morgan Vase in “Agata” Pattern (2013.4.30) Location: 35 Centuries of Glass, American Gallery
Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, a lesbian couple, have been making glass together for over 40 years. Pioneers in the Studio Glass Movement, they continue to mentor younger artists, especially women, in this male-dominated field. Object: Still Life with Two Plums, Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick (2002.4.2) Location: Contemporary Art + Design, Nature Gallery
David Chatt says about his artistic practice of working with beads: “I am a gay man…so I really enjoy the fact that I’m a 6’5” white guy that works in this medium that is covered in all kinds of tradition and all kinds of gender stereotypes.” Object: 108 Meditations in Saffron, David K. Chatt (2010.4.125) Location: Contemporary Art + Design, History & Material Gallery
In the 1600s, Isaac Newton used a glass prism to show how white light is actually a spectrum of colors, each of which appears at a different wavelength. The rainbow flag, as a symbol of LGBTQIA+ Pride, debuted in 1978. Location: Innovation Center, Optical Gallery
For more information on contemporary glass artists who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community and the wider history of LGBTQIA+ artists and art, check out this helpful guide from the Rakow Research Library here.
For additional information and research on some of the objects and themes discussed in our Pride Tour, you can also read these references:
- Egyptology, sexual science, and modern gender identity
- Androgyny in Roman art
- Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick
- An interview with David Chatt
- A history of the rainbow Pride flag
- Explore the many different types of Pride flags
*LGBTQIA+ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Agender