The Corning Museum of Glass is delighted to announce that its Board of Trustees voted unanimously in October 2022 to appoint Corey Pemberton as its newest member.
Pemberton is a glassblower and mixed-media artist living on the west coast who already has close ties to the Museum. At the end of last year, we asked him to share more about his background and to reflect on what he hopes to bring to the table as the Museum’s newest Trustee.
Corey Pemberton lives and works in Los Angeles, California, but he grew up in Virginia, a place that has manifestly shaped who he is. With two loving parents, Corey is the middle child between a younger sister and an older brother. Amazingly, everyone in Corey’s family went to Virginia Commonwealth University just as he did—Corey graduated from VCU in 2012 with a BFA in Craft and Material Studies.
It was also in Virginia that Corey became interested in glass as an expressive art form. At the Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, Corey first witnessed working glassmakers. “I remember standing there watching them work for quite a while as a child on a family vacation,” Corey says. But it wasn’t until his college years that he became “fully addicted” to glass when he discovered he could study the material. “The day after I learned VCU had a glass program, I went and switched my major from Communication Arts to Craft.”
Now, Corey splits his time in Los Angeles between production glass blowing and his painting practice—his work has been collected by actresses Cynthia Erivo and Lena Waithe and recording artist Alicia Keyes among others. Corey is also committed to the nonprofit arts organization Crafting the Future where he serves as Director. Crafting the Future is a nonprofit organization that works to diversify the fields of art, craft, and design by connecting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists with opportunities that will help them thrive. As a partner to Crafting the Future, The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass has helped to provide scholarships to BIPOC artists.
Corey has been connected to the Museum’s community for 10 years. “I first attended The Studio as a student in 2013,” he says. “I studied with Ethan Stern who is still a good friend and mentor to me, and also met my best friend and coworker SaraBeth Post that session.” Since then, Corey has returned as a Studio Assistant and joined the Expanding Horizons program as an instructor in 2022. Most recently, Corey and four students from Crafting the Future were at The Studio this month to take (and in Corey’s case, give) a class.
“I remember my first time at Corning, and how mind-blowing it was for me to have access to all that the Museum, Studio, and Library have to offer,” Corey continues. “I spent every moment that I wasn’t blowing glass doing research and sketching. Before then, I hadn’t considered my place in the history and future of glass. I now know how important it is to have some understanding of the makers and objects that came before us. A craftsperson can neither innovate nor preserve tradition without understanding the history of their craft, or without paying attention to everything that is happening currently around the globe in that craft.”
Corey joined other members of the Board of Trustees at the Museum for the StudioNEXT opening ceremony in October 2022 and is excited about the future of the project. “The facilities promise to be state of the art and will really cement The Studio’s place in the field as the premier location for creating glass art,” he says. “I also loved meeting other glass enthusiasts at the Ennion dinner I attended. It’s great to know that there are others out there who care as much as you do about strange old globs of glass.”
That appreciation for “strange old globs of glass” informs his own collection too. Corey collects glass made by the friends, mentors, and artists he admires. “I have a large collection of objects that I covet, many of which are handmade glass,” he says. “This collection includes Venetian goblets, midcentury vases, intricately patterned water glasses, and more. Every piece reminds me of the artist who made it.”
On his new responsibilities with the Museum’s Board of Trustees, Corey says, “I look forward to sharing my perspective as a working artist and person of color who has their finger on the pulse of the greater art and craft world. Through my work with Crafting the Future, I am learning every day how we can better support young people of color as we welcome them into spaces that have not historically catered to their comfort.”
“Along with our Board chair, Dr. Jeffrey Evenson, I am delighted to welcome Corey,” said Karol Wight, President and Executive Director. “The Corning Museum of Glass is an ever-evolving institution, and I appreciate the perspective and experience that Corey brings to the Board. I look forward to working with him to shape the future of the Museum.”
Pemberton joins Alan T. Eusden, Jeffrey W. Evenson, James B. Flaws, Randi L. Hewit, James D. Houghton, Alexia Hudson-Ward, David L. Morse, Mark S. Rogus, Edward Schlesinger, Preston Singletary, Wendell P. Weeks, Karol Wight, and Marianne W. Young as the 14th member on the Board of Trustees.
Please join us all in welcoming Corey Pemberton.