Philadelphia’s University of the Arts recently announced Irvin Borowsky and wife Laurie Wagman’s recent contribution to support a new glass art program. The gift of $500,000 will go towards the Irvin Borowsky Prize in Glass Art (to be awarded annually) and the Borowsky Center for Glass Arts, a state of the art hot and cold working shop. Head of the University’s Glass program since 2010, Alexander Rosenberg, calls this new chapter, “an enriching experience to students, while helping to propel the careers of innovators who might not yet have high visibility as artists.” Borowsky, whose fortune is derived from printing and publishing, has long held a trustee position at the University. The on-campus gallery that bears his name presents the work of visual artists of all stripes from sculpture to book making, and this generous gift is a boon in the age of a new chapter in the University’s Visual Art program, including a new Glass major introduced to the school in the Fall of 2011.
The 3,700 square foot glass working studio will include multiple furnaces as well as a a space for exhibitions and installations. In a press release regarding the generous endowment and its many uses, University president Sean Buffington is quoted as saying, “The Borowsky Center for Glass Arts…honors the University’s 130 years of leadership in teaching craft artists, and will help us to continue shaping the future of these disciplines.”
Following the implementation of the Borowsky award and the brand new studio glass facility, the University plans to increase its influence as a premiere institution for glass art. Alexander Rosenberg, program director and working glass artist, maintains that Glass art has been present in the school’s design program since the 1960′s, but the new facilities will spur the program’s value as a leader in glass art. The implementation of the Borowsky Prize in conjunction with the improved glass studio will create a cycle of success. In an email correspondence with the Hot Sheet Rosenberg discusses how the new studio and prize create ”space for international artists to visit and work on their projects while students can still work in parallel.”
The school’s vision for recipients of the award is to seek out those who break the barriers of the medium. With Judith Schaechter and Benjamin Wright serving on the glass art faculty, there is already a wealth of inspiration for students and visiting artists. But Rosenberg asserts that the importance and ingenuity of the Borowsky Prize is its determination to “reward people for being challenging and unconventional,” a risky leap to take in the art world.
Rosenberg earned a BFA in Glass from Rhode Island School of Design as well as a graduate degree in visual studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He currently has work on view at the 2012 International Glass Prize Exhibition in GlazenHuis, in Lommel Belgium.