The Curatorial department of The Corning Museum of Glass experienced lots of change over the last twelve months. With the Museum’s former Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs, Carole Ann Fabian, taking on the role of interim Director of the Rakow Research Library and several curators pursuing new opportunities, the department is welcoming new staff, each adding new areas of expertise and perspectives.
In their respective roles, this group of new curators will serve the Museum’s mission to inspire people to see glass in a new light and advance an exemplary exhibition program that reveals the impact of glass on society and art history.
As we start 2023, we’d like to take a moment to introduce you and in doing so, ask each new member of the team a question to get to know them a little better and find out where their interests lie.
In June 2022, Rïse (pronounced “Reese”) Peacock joined the Museum as curatorial assistant on a three-year assignment to support core activities such as the preparation of acquisition proposals, exhibitions, cataloging, and research of the Museum’s collections. Rïse is an artist, curator, educator, and active member of the glass community who recently served as an assistant technician of glass and an adjunct professor at Alfred University’s School of Art and Design. She describes their primary research interest and artistic practice as being focused on queer-femme histories and material culture with a focus on glass practices. She is excited for the unique opportunity to collaborate with the international glass community while engaging alternative communities that will shape the future of glass.
Rïse, in your first year at CMoG, has an object in the collection taken your breath away, and why?
“When I reflect on our Museum’s extensive collection, it is hard to choose just one piece that fills me with admiration. As an emerging artist and curator, I am captivated by works that demonstrate rituals of care and unabashedly ‘speak truth’ to the world we are collectively learning to navigate today.
“Joyce J. Scott’s Three Graces Oblivious While Los Angeles Burns (1992) is a piece that fills me with a sense of urgency and emotion. While we can appreciate this piece for the level of care and craftspersonship applied to the layers of intricate beadwork and assemblage of multiple glass processes, the imagery and sculpture demand our attention.
“Joyce J. Scott created this piece as a direct response to the police beating of Rodney King, a Black construction worker in Los Angeles. Beneath the head of a Black man, the three Graces—peace, happiness, and gracefulness—turn their backs on a gray beaded building with spirals of orange flames that reference the uprisings in LA that followed the police officers’ acquittal. Scott’s piece reminds us of the ongoing struggles to abolish structural racism in our privileged institutions and I am proud that the Museum’s collection includes this evocative.”
Rïse was soon joined by incoming Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs Kathy Fredrickson in September. Kathy worked as an independent museum consultant since leaving her position at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, in 2020, where she had served for nine years as Chief of Curatorial Affairs and Director of Exhibition Research and Publishing. In her new role, Kathy oversees the collections directorate, including Collections Management (registrars, preparators, photographers), Conservation, Curatorial, and Publications, working with the entire team on collections stewardship, exhibitions, and research. She is also the newest member of our Leadership Team. In her spare time, Kathy hangs out with her standard Poodle, Django Reinhardt Fredrickson.
Kathy, what challenges excite you about working with glass at CMoG?
“Glass is alchemy. It uniquely combines the plasticity of sculpture with the innovations of the lab to capture that most spiritual essence, light. It can be solid as a rock or evanescent as music, often at the same time. The Corning experience—one that combines cutting-edge exhibits, international Artists-in-Residence, and world-class research facilities—is such a catalyst of human creativity and opportunity. I am eager to learn all things “glassy” (a term I just acquired recently) from the incredible team here at Corning.”
In October, Julie Bellemare joined as curator of early modern glass, a role that cares for a broad swathe of glass history (c.1250-1825) in a global context. With a PhD in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture from Bard Graduate Center; a Master’s in History of Art and Visual Culture from University of Oxford, UK; and a BA in Art History and East Asian Studies from McGill University in Montreal, Julie is well suited to the demands. She recently served as the Jane and Morgan Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow, Asian Art, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, specializing in Chinese glass and enamels. Prior to her fellowship at the Met, Julie worked at the National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, and the Brooklyn Museum. Julie is fluent in both French and Mandarin.
Julie, how would you describe your area of the collection, and what is your approach to exploring and developing it?
“The Museum’s collection of early modern glass is both expansive in geographical breadth and exceptional in terms of the quality of its objects, representing several high points of technical and artistic achievement in glassmaking. As curator of early modern glass, I am committed to interpreting this collection in a way that celebrates its historical significance, while also telling stories that are less often told. My background in Chinese glass and enamels beckons me to explore the global connections of glass, and I am keen to engage with non-Western objects to highlight the unique ways in which glass was produced, used, or repurposed across cultures. I am excited to be part of the Curatorial team and look forward to bringing even more inclusive and diverse perspectives on the Museum’s exceptional collections.”
Starting alongside Julie, Amy Hughes undertook the position of assistant curator. Amy brings nine years of curatorial and research experiences, most recently as Research Assistant at The Sudek Project, Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. A recipient of the 2019 Rakow Grant for Glass Research here at the Museum, Amy studied the cast-glass sculptures of Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová to inform her doctoral dissertation investigating intersections between political dissent, trauma, and modernism in Communist Czechoslovakia.
Amy, you have a keen interest in Czech glass, but what else will you enjoy diving into here at CMoG?
“While 19th- and 20th-century Central Europe glass, and the Czech lands in particular are interesting to me, glass from all periods fascinates me. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with the wide breadth and scope of the Collection! Archives, both as physical entities and as theoretical subjects, also greatly interest me and I’m excited to explore the richness of the Rakow Research Library’s collection and archives. I also have a keen interest in learning more about the various processes of glassmaking and can’t wait to spend time in The Studio watching glassmaking and making glass myself!”
We hope you’ll join us in welcoming all of our new curators and will have an opportunity to learn more about them and from them during your visits to The Corning Museum of Glass.