Blown Away by Corning

Arthur Wiener, Louise Irvine, and WMODA board member Rabbi Moshe Plutchok had a special opportunity to visit the Corning Museum of Glass on July 17 and were blown away by the experience.

We flew up in Corning’s private plane at the invitation of Steve Gibbs, the Senior Manager of Business Development, to talk about ideas for future collaborations. Discussions are on-going for a Glass Florida Coast to Coast glass tour in 2020 presented by the Corning Mobile Hot Shop so watch this space for developments.

At Corning’s Molten Glass Immersion Experience, we watched the glass blowing team working on a life-size deer for Richard Wilson’s upcoming installation at Design Miami. Unfortunately, the piece shattered at a crucial stage shocking the audience and prompting the Rabbi to exclaim it was like watching Bambi’s mother being shot! Thankfully, we heard that other deer making sessions have been more successful.

We toured the historical collections, spanning over 200 years of glassmaking, including the artists represented in the WMODA Hot Glass collection. I was particularly interested to see the museum’s vast paperweight collection in advance of our visit to Paul Stankard’s studio. It was fascinating to learn about glass from a different scholarly perspective as Rabbi Plutchok shared biblical references with Steve Gibbs. Librarians at the Rakow Library showed us some of the oldest and rarest books in their collection, one dating back to the 11th century which survived the great Corning flood of 1972 thanks to expert conservation techniques.

We viewed the exhibition New Glass Now, which includes work by 100 artists of 32 nationalities. Curator Susie Silbert’s enthusiasm for contemporary glass was highly contagious and led to some lively conversations. Bubble Cabinet by Jeroen Verhoeven caught my eye given my recent Highlights blog on bubbles. Glass is hot globally and Corning is defining the contemporary glass movement with ground-breaking exhibitions. The museum was also a creative partner from concept to reality for the TV show Blown Away now showing on Netflix. Contestants competed for the coveted winning prize, the new Blown Away Residency at Corning Museum. This is a must-see program to fully appreciate the challenges of creating glass art.