In 2023, 16 outstanding artists and scholars from around the world have been awarded highly competitive residency opportunities at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass. Among them are Alicia Lomné and Harriet Schwarzrock who began their month-long residencies in February.
Alicia Lomné from Washington State is an internationally accomplished artist working in the kiln casting technique of pâte de verre. Using the expansive facilities of The Studio, she is experimenting with larger and more complex forms. Specifically, inner core mold materials and application, with the hope of expanding the possibilities of scale. The work of Harriet Schwarzrock, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different. Schwarzrock, from Queanbeyan in Australia, explores motifs of circulation and respiration by using glass, plasma, and neon. During her residency, she plans to create vein-like membranes from borosilicate tubes which will become responsive plasma-illuminated forms. She anticipates that the flickering pulse of the contained plasma illumination will act as a responsive device, making visible the viewer’s presence.
We reached out to both artists at the beginning of their residencies to learn more about the impact a residency here in Corning has on their work.
- Why are residencies so important to an artist’s work?
Alicia Lomné: “I have never yet had the opportunity to take a residency in my career. I have been too busy raising a child while working on my career and other jobs at the same time. Residencies are so important because they remove the artist from their life, giving them space to focus solely on creating. In my own experience, I think some of the greatest innovations in technique and creative thinking come from playing. If one has time to play with the materials, experiment, and make mistakes, one often finds delightful surprises that will lead to great breakthroughs. Working in your home studio you might not experiment as much being concerned about wasting limited time, resources, materials, or even electricity. So having the freedom of focused time and the expanded studio facilities is essential to the growth of an artist.”
Harriet Schwarzrock: “Residencies are such rare moments to step outside one’s everyday bustle. An opportunity to focus on a particular project or respond to the particular qualities that a new locality can offer.”
- How did you prepare for this residency?
Harriet Schwarzrock: “My practice has been focused on using blown glass in order to create vessels that subsequently contain plasma illumination. Much like a sculptural version of a plasma globe from a science museum where there are invisible inert gases (neon, argon, krypton, and xenon) encased within the forms. When excited by electricity they become a luminous plasma, the fourth state of matter, making visible the invisible. I was fortunate to be able to attend a master class just prior to this residency, with Wayne Strattman, who is the world expert in plasma illumination contained within borosilicate glass.”
Alicia Lomné: “Much of my process is very slow, beginning with hand-building models from clay or other materials. Because I want to be able to do a lot of experimentation, I created rubber molds to expedite part of my process. This allows me to use the wax facilities to pour wax positives rather than hand sculpting each model. I also did some research on materials to test during the residency. I was daydreaming about ideas I would like to work on and experiments to try. I also tried to take care of as much “real life” stuff as possible, so now I don’t have to think of much beyond doing my laundry and feeding myself.”
- What are you most excited about?
Harriet Schwarzrock: “I am thrilled to work in The Studio, to have such a focused time to explore and experiment. It is thrilling to simultaneously have access to the extensive Museum collection, and the Rakow Research Library. These different experiences allow me to draw upon historical references and see exquisite examples of glass manipulated by people throughout the ages.”
Alicia Lomné: “Having large, dedicated spaces to spread out and work in. I can’t express enough the importance and freedom that comes with having larger spaces to create in. The dedicated time in which I am not working on anything else but my art. Every day I wake up and feel like a kid in a candy shop!”
- What new things do you hope to achieve working with pâte de verre?
Alicia Lomné: “My main goal is to have the ability to work larger by inventing a new hollow interior core. I have had many ideas and questions kicking around in my head for years I feel like I finally have to ability to try all these crazy ideas out. It’s so fun to be able to throw in tests of various kinds and see where they lead. In a way, it doesn’t matter if it is successful because at every step you are learning, and that always drives the work, the technique, and your personal journey as an artist forward.”
- What is it that draws you to working with plasma and neon?
Harriet Schwarzrock: “The development of modern lighting including plasma illumination and neon signage has developed in step with glass technologies. This responsive form of illumination, contained within a bespoke form, allows me to explore ideas of interconnection and also the subtle electricity within our bodies. I enjoy that the activity and quality of the light within are responsive, kinetic, and ever-changing. There is a feeling of wonder and intrigue in making an object which contains this luminous and mesmerizing phenomenon within.”