The Quest for Opal: Specialty Glass Resident Mark Peiser Finds Joy in the Journey

There is something fascinating about obsession. About searching for a form of perfection that proves so elusive, it’s the journey itself that becomes sustaining and gratifying, if maybe only to you.

The Specialty Glass Residency, a collaboration between Corning Incorporated and The Corning Museum of Glass, creates an environment where that pursuit is not only welcomed but encouraged.

Artist Mark Peiser working next to his assistant, studies a large piece of clear glass on a tabletop.
Mark Peiser with his assistant Jeremy (Jake) Chamberland working at Sullivan Park.

I interviewed Mark Peiser, the 2019 recipient, shortly before he began his year-long residency in Corning, and what struck me most was his passion to develop a glass that might so closely resemble mist in a bottle, or “the haze on the Blue Ridge Mountains” as he described it, that you could be forgiven for thinking yourself lost in those Appalachian hills whenever you peer into the depths of his glass creations.

Peiser thought then that he might find a glass at Corning that would bring him closer to that goal. When I caught up with him more recently, that discovery was forefront in my thoughts, and it didn’t take long to get to the heart of the matter. “This residency is an extension of a body of work I started years ago,” he confirms. “Which is essentially an investigation into opal glasses and new forms of opal.” Here is his connection back to the mountains and valleys of home and the beautiful opal-blue aura to which his surroundings surrender themselves.

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What’s That Noise?

Visitors to The Corning Museum of Glass are often greeted with a loud and mysterious noise. But it doesn’t take long to discover the source of all the strange clattering and chiming. At the entrance to The Shops as you approach from the Admissions Lobby, sits S’Marblous by local artist George Rhoads.

A 6 foot tall kinetic marble machine stands in the middle of the Museum shops. It has multiple tracks and obstacles that marbles roll along, interacting with instruments to make noises as they go.
The yellow features and loud sounds of S’Marblous are easy to see and hear from afar.

Standing 6 feet on all sides, S’Marblous is a large glass-sided cube with a very commanding presence. But as you get closer you begin to see exactly what’s going on inside. S’Marblous is a rolling ball sculpture, a form of kinetic art that involves one or more balls rolling along different tracks and through specially designed obstacles in an endless, gravity-powered loop. Our machine features large colored marbles that roll along three separate tracks. Two of the tracks run marbles continuously up and down, around and around, while the third is reserved for when a special marble is purchased and released from a spiral dispenser. Sounds are produced intermittently by features such as a Hammer Chime and glass bells that the marbles interact with along their route. And there are lots of interesting obstacles too, such as a Loop de Loop and Catch Basket, to entertain the eye. Each mechanism is designed to reveal the way it works, and all the mechanisms are spaced far enough apart so they’re easy to see, which is important when the marbles pick up speed.

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Nascent: A Collaborative Exhibition between The Studio and 171 Cedar Arts Center

On an early morning walk in Corning, New York, there is a warm, electric glow likely to catch your eye on the corner of East First and Cedar Street. The light comes from a neon installation by James Ronner and is part of a stunning gallery exhibition, Nascent, in the Houghton Gallery at 171 Cedar Arts Center.  

A Paperclip: An International Symbol of Solidarity also used by MacGyver by James Ronner. Photo Credit Erica Simon

Upon entering the space, it is surprising to see that those dynamic neon paperclips are reflected on the surface of William Gudenrath’s precise, Venetian-style reticello glassware. An airy, precarious flameworked installation by Stephen Brucker, Illusion of Inclusion, is juxtaposed with the exuberant colors and inviting texture of Christa Westbrook’s blown sculptures, Yellow Jellyfish and Red Coral.  

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The Studio announces 2020 Residencies

Today, The Studio announced the 2020 Artists-in-Residence recipients: twelve artists from around the world who will each spend one month at The Studio researching and experimenting with new techniques to further their work. Included in this group is the first recipient of the newly established Burke Residency created in partnership between The Studio and the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). Additionally, two artists and two scholars have been selected for the David Whitehouse Research Residency for Artists and the David Whitehouse Research Residency for Scholars, respectively. These recipients will spend up to three weeks in the Rakow Library utilizing the vast holdings to inform their practice or area of research. During their time in Corning, each resident will provide a public Lunchtime Lecture describing their inspirations and work at The Studio and the Rakow Library.

Artists-in-Residence at The Studio

New this year: The Burke Residency

The Corning Museum of Glass is going MAD! In partnership with the Museum of Art and Design, The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass is introducing the Burke Residency. This residency will enable one artist from the Burke Prize exhibition at MAD to use the facilities and resources at The Studio to further their artistic exploration. The first recipient of the Burke Residency is Lauren Kalman, a contemporary American visual artist from Detroit, Michigan. Her residency will begin on April 30.

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Connect with The Corning Museum of Glass from your Couch: A Guide to our Digital Offerings

Dear blog readers,   

We are in the midst of an unprecedented moment for museums and cultural institutions across the country. With widespread closures due to COVID-19, our most direct way to reach the public is no longer a viable option. We are all doing what we can to make sure the visitors who would normally walk through our doors know that they can still engage with us from the comfort of their homes.  

The Corning Museum of Glass

Currently, The Corning Museum of Glass is closed, and all scheduled classes, events, and programs are canceled until further notice. It’s vital that we do our part to promote social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19. And while you’re doing your part to stick close to home, we know you’ll be in need of some educational entertainment.   

With our vast and myriad collection of online resources, we’ve got you covered.  

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The Studio announces 2020 Residencies

Today, The Studio announced the 2020 Artists-in-Residence recipients: twelve artists from around the world who will each spend one month at The Studio researching and experimenting with new techniques to further their work. Included in this group is the first recipient of the newly established Burke Residency created in partnership between The Studio and the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). Additionally, two artists and two scholars have been selected for the David Whitehouse Research Residency for Artists and the David Whitehouse Research Residency for Scholars, respectively. These recipients will spend up to three weeks in the Rakow Library utilizing the vast holdings to inform their practice or area of research. During their time in Corning, each resident will provide a public Lunchtime Lecture describing their inspirations and work at The Studio and the Rakow Library.

Artists-in-Residence at The Studio

New this year: The Burke Residency

The Corning Museum of Glass is going MAD! In partnership with the Museum of Art and Design, The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass is introducing the Burke Residency. This residency will enable one artist from the Burke Prize exhibition at MAD to use the facilities and resources at The Studio to further their artistic exploration. The first recipient of the Burke Residency is Lauren Kalman, a contemporary American visual artist from Detroit, Michigan. Her residency will begin on April 30.

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The Corning Museum of Glass Partners on Glass Competition Show Blown Away 

The Corning Museum of Glass is thrilled to share news of an exciting collaboration on the forthcoming Netflix series, Blown Away, which will bring the art and beauty of glassblowing to television screens around the world. A visually compelling process often described as “mesmerizing” and “captivating,” glassblowing has never been the subject of any major TV programming—until now.  

The art glass competition show created by Marblemedia, an award-winning entertainment company based in Toronto, Canada, Blown Away features a group of 10 highly skilled glassmakers from North America creating beautiful works of art that are assessed by a panel of expert judges. One artist is eliminated each episode until a winner is announced in the tenth and final episode. A co-production with Blue Ant Media of Toronto, Blown Away will air on the Makeful channel in Canada before coming to the Netflix platform worldwide later this year.

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