The Studio’s Amy Schwartz and William (Bill) Gudenrath were honored on Saturday, May 6 in Washington DC with the James Renwick Alliance for Craft (JRA) Distinguished Craft Educator Award for excellence and innovation in education. The biennial award was celebrated at the JRA Spring Craft Weekend with a Symposium, Gala, and Awards Brunch. Recognized for their influence on future artists and significant contributions to American education in the craft field, Amy and Bill’s selection as honorees was the first time in the ceremony’s 20-year history that both makers and educators were honored at the same time.
Amy and Bill are the latest on a long list of distinguished honorees—the JRA Award has recognized some of the most influential craft artists in American history. This year, the other nominees included ceramic artist, social activist, and spoken word poet Roberto Lugo (the youngest artist to ever receive the Master of the Medium award); furniture maker Kristina Madsen; and curator, quilter, author, art historian, and aerospace engineer Carolyn Mazloomi.
“Amy and Bill have had a strong vision for The Studio since the moment it opened its doors in 1996,” said Karol Wight, President and Executive Director of The Corning Museum of Glass. “The Studio was a success from the start. Studio users have benefited from the program and the community that Amy and Bill have built and led over the years. It is such a success that we are now expanding the facility to both right-size our existing spaces and add exciting new elements to the program. None of this would have been possible without their leadership and love of glass. This award is richly deserved, and I am so pleased that their impact has been recognized in this way by the James Renwick Alliance for Craft.”
Returning to Corning, award in hand, we asked Amy, Director of The Studio, and Bill, The Studio’s Resident Advisor, to sum up what this recognition means to them and what’s next for them both.
“Bill and I have taken note of the Renwick’s Distinguished Educator and Masters of the Medium award recipients over the years and it’s an incredible honor to be counted among them and to be recognized for our work at The Studio,” said Amy. “Our vision for The Studio was to be a leader in the international glass community and a creative resource for the region. When we started The Studio, we made a commitment to excellence, to become a world-class studio for glass education and a place for artists to make their work. One of our strengths is that we take people seriously, whether they are a beginning student or a serious artist. We want to help people achieve their goals in glass in a friendly and supportive environment. Receiving this award is an affirmation that we are realizing our vision.”
“As for what’s next,” Amy continued. “We are both working on big projects! Bill is nearing completion on his third eBook about ancient Roman glassmaking techniques, and together we are undertaking a facility and program expansion and a capital fundraising campaign. The expanded Studio will have the capacity to meet the demands of our community. We listened to the needs of artists and students and our plans will position The Studio for its next 25 years of success. We are grateful to work alongside a strong team who will carry our vision forward.”
StudioNEXT, the project that Amy describes, is a visionary transformation of The Studio to become the most comprehensive, accessible, and technologically advanced center for glass artistry and artistic innovation in the world. To learn more about this exciting project, visit our website.
“Individually and collectively, Amy and Bill have had a profound impact on contemporary glass through the programs they have created and their stewardship,” said Richard Whiteley, Senior Programs Manager at The Studio. “Together, they conceptualized and realized the vision for The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass, which has become a key center for teaching, residencies, research, and experiencing glass. One unique quality of The Studio is the diverse and inclusive programming that it provides for artists, students, and the public to explore and learn about glass. Karen LaMonte can be working on a residency while someone who has never touched glass before tries it out under the same roof. This welcoming culture creates excellent experiences for all who walk through the doors, and it is a testament to Amy and Bill’s vision.
“Amy is an extraordinary Director who has a bold vision for the future of glass. Her leadership in developing new teaching and residency programs, such as the new Residency Center, which we are in the midst of building, is a testament to her ability to see the big picture and manage the details of complex programs. With approximately 1,000 students taking classes each year, many of whom return annually, Amy knows most of them by name. Meanwhile, Bill has a reputation as one of the finest Venetian glassblowers in the world. He is also one of the leading research scholars on the history of glass and has produced historical glassblowing videos that have been watched by millions.
“And if you have the privilege to get close to them you see that their humanity is their strongest quality. Their ability to nurture others and communities is their most enduring quality. Daily I see the love and respect that is extended to them by so many around the globe, from people who are new to glass to icons of our field.”
Please join us in congratulating and celebrating Amy Schwartz and Bill Gudenrath.