Last month, the Museum of Arts and Design linked the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass movement with their exhibition “Glasstress New York: New Glass from the Venice Biennales,” which offically opened yesterday. Shortly after the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet wrote a blog post noting how little the “Glasstress New York” show had to do with Studio Glass, something the American Craft Museum championed before it became the Museum of Arts and Design, the museum contacted us to inform us of its plans to hold a second, smaller exhibition later this year entitled “Playing with Fire.” This new exhibition is designed to focus more closely on the American history of Studio Glass, as well as the Museum of Arts and Design’s own role in the movement.
Associate curator Jennifer Scanlan, who will oversee the exhibition, recently spoke to GLASS about “Playing with Fire,” revealing that it would showcase both works of historical significance and more “cutting-edge installations.” Many of the works will be from the museum’s permanent collection, with a few on a loan. Some of the artists with pieces on display will be Jaroslava Brychtova and Stanislav Libensky, Lucio Bubacco, Dale Chihuly, Steffan Dam, Laura de Santillana, Matt Eskuche, Toshio Iezumi, Marvin Lipofsky, Harvey Littleton, Dante Marioni, Richard Meitner, Tobias Mohl, Klaus Moje, William Morris, Judith Schaechter, Preston Singletary, Paul Stankard and Lino Tagliapietra.
Scanlan said that the exhibition is “still evolving” and thus no specific themes for the show have yet emerged. She can reveal, however, that “while we will definitely include all of the major protagonists of glass over the past 50 years, we will also include some work by artists who are not associated with the studio glass movement.” As curator, she is “less interested in making this exhibition a didactic history of glass and more interested in showing people why this is such an exciting material.”
In addition to the works on display, there will also be videos regarding the process of glass making and artist interviews regarding the history of glass, available in both the interactive areas and the iPod exhibition guides.
When questioned about “Playing with Fire’s” connection to both the anniversary of Studio Glass and to “Glasstress New York,” Scanlan responded that the museum anticipated a lot of intrigue this year and that they decided to further such intrigue with what they are “informally calling ‘The Year of Glass,’” in which two exhibitions will be presented.
“Glasstress,” currently on display, is “a project in which Adriano Berengo invited world-renowned artists to work with glass artisans in his factory inVenice. This exhibition in its own way makes reference to glass history, because of both the centuries-old Venetian tradition of glass innovation, and the number of American Studio Glass artists who collaborated with Venetian glassmakers (Dale Chihuly and Bob Wilson come immediately to mind), and so expanded their skills and their creativity.” “Playing with Fire,” on the other hand, “looks at the history of glass art through works in our collection, and so includes pieces made during the past 50 years.
“In some ways, the date [of the Studio Glass anniversary] is a little arbitrary,” Scanlan added. “It really marks the beginning of glassblowing as a viable technique for artists—glass artistry had already been around much before that date with techniques such as casting, slumping, and flameworking. So while the 50th anniversary served as a good occasion to examine glass history, I felt like there was a broader story to be told that was more international and extended to many different techniques.”
“Playing with Fire” opens November 6th, 2012, and will run until April 7th, 2013.
IF YOU GO:“Playing with Fire” November 6, 2012 – April 7, 2013 Museum of Arts and Design Website: