TEACHING CONTEMPORARY GLASS ART
Prompted by the Glass Art Society’s 2016 conference in nearby Corning, I recently created a course on contemporary glass art. Over an intensive, three-week period, the students took a material traverse of recent glass practices, viewing contemporary work through a number of critical, curatorial, and historical lenses. A central component of this class was the student’s participation in the annual Glass Art Society’s conference, “Creating Context: Glass in a New Light.” This international gathering allowed students to experience first-hand professional lectures and technical demonstrations, thematic panels and special exhibitions.
For this course, I created a number of lectures on histories and themes that I believe are essential for a young glass artist and provocative for any student. Opening with a focused lecture on the Toledo Workshops and continuing with a broad-based talk on avant-garde practices of the 1960s, I wanted to inform students of both the specific history within studio glass and offer them alternative narratives outside of glass to draw on. Contemporary issues were discussed alongside current artists (such as Josiah McElheny) and recent exhibitions (such as the Hayward Gallery’s Light Show). The course concluded with a lively discussion on writing about one’s own practice, with students reading and commenting on the artist Edmund deWaal’s “Speak for Yourself” and a series of student essays from the online Interpreting Ceramics.
As mentioned above, a central component of the course was the Glass Art Society’s annual conference, which took place in nearby Corning, NY. Students were required to go to a number of formats (lectures, panels, demonstrations, and lecture-demonstrations) and write up a series of critical reviews. Further, students chose a single object from the Corning Museum of Art’s new contemporary art wing for a detailed, visual analysis and also attended a special exhibition and wrote a review as part of their class project.