Meet the master glassblowers who work with GlassLab.
Meet the master glassblowers who work with GlassLab.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, Marc Barreda started a career in the arts. Working as a mixed-media sculptor and training as a glassblower, he developed an understanding of glass by working for a variety of artists, both taking and assisting with classes at glass schools around the United States and Europe. "My work challenges visual perceptions and ideals, emphasizing an attention and devotion to fine craftsmanship,” he says.
This commitment to the medium opened a variety of doors for Barreda. In 2005, he made his first trip to Holland to help develop the Vrij Glas Foundation. In 2009, he moved to Amsterdam full-time to pursue a master's degree at Sandberg Institute, the graduate program of the Rietveld Academie. Barreda also works with acclaimed artists and designers to help realize their ideas in glass, and teaches at the KABK in The Hague. His work is exhibited internationally and is included in the collections of The Creative Glass Center of America, the Museo Nacional del Vidrio in Spain, the Nationaal Glasmuseum of the Netherlands, and The Corning Museum of Glass.
In April 2019, Barreda will be a David Whitehouse Research Resident Artist. During his residency, he will study trick glasses through exhaustive cataloging, finding relevant context to better understand these glasses.
Emrys Berkower is a glass artist and designer, with a focus on modern adaptations of 17th-century Italian glassmaking techniques, and mid-century modern design practices stemming from Italy and Scandinavia. This focus has led to a natural progression and interest in interiors, furniture, and fabrication. For over a decade, Berkower has worked with artists, designers, and educators to produce a wide range of decorative and functional table objects, including lighting and sculpture. He has concurrently demonstrated, educated, and performed glassmaking at renowned institutions including The Corning Museum of Glass, Wheaton Village, and UrbanGlass. Berkower received his BFA from Alfred University and has worked in various private glass studios since 1992.
Danish artist Maria Bang Espersen seeks to expand the viewer’s perspective through her work in glass. By stretching and bending the molten material, her sculptures show a frozen movement, while the glass retains a soft look. Espersen studied art history at the University of Aarhus, and glass and ceramics at Engelsholm Højskole, both in Denmark. She has completed additional studies at the Kosta School of Glass in Sweden, The Royal Danish Academy of Design, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. Her work had been included in recent exhibitions including SiO2 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Green in Nexø, Denmark, Process in Hasle, Denmark, and Svanekegaardens Spring Exhibition in Denmark. She has been awarded the International Glass Prize and an Eco Arts Award.
In her March 2013 Residency at The Studio, Espersen explored movement in glass, using three different approaches: the suspension of movement, movement of light, and movement as a concept. With the help of assistants, she created large-scale sculptures based on these approaches.
“I question our strongly rooted perceptions of how we understand our surroundings,” says Espersen. “Glass is used for its special qualities, whether they are familiar to us or not, to offer a new perspective. I present glass in ways that often has very little, but at the same time everything, to do with what glass is or can do as a material.”
Karin Forslund is a Swedish glassmaker and artist currently based in Denmark. She received formal training as a glassmaker in Orrefors, Sweden, and received a bachelor's degree from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, School of Design in Bornholm, Denmark. Forslund has worked on multiple art glass production jobs in both Sweden and Denmark, including Åfors glass factory, and for internationally acclaimed artists. Her work has brought her to many countries, including the United States, France, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Sweden. With an aesthetic background in the indigenous tradition of Scandinavian glass, her artistic approach uses the principal of the dogme to probe the creative relationship between maker and material.
Damien François has been creating art in glass since 2006. His works have been exhibited internationally, including a traveling solo exhibition in 2014. François’ work has been featured in several catalogs and publications in Europe and the United States, including three issues of New Glass Review. He has assisted and worked with several international artists and studied glassmaking at the Danish Design School, Center for Glass and Ceramics, Denmark; Pilchuck Glass School; and Engelshom Højskole of Bredsten, Department of Glass and Ceramic, Denmark. “By exposing an unfamiliar side of the characteristics of glass,” says François, “my artwork aims to approach issues of perplexity and uncertainty, I’m driven primarily by material experimentation with glass, based on the exploration and exploitation of its multitude possibilities.”
A resident of Corning, New York, Dane Jack forms hot glass objects, paying close attention to technique and design. His delicate blown glass vases and lamps feature bold colors and clean lines. Jack began his career at The Corning Museum of Glass as a narrator for the Hot Glass Show. He also worked as a gaffer for Steuben Glass and as a freelance glass artist, in addition to assisting other glass artists in their studios. He occasionally teaches classes at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, sharing his technical skills with beginning glassblowers.
Bennett Jordan is a glassmaker, with a focus on hot glass. He explores the intersection of design and tradition-based technique. Jordan has shown his work nationally, and has fabricated work for numerous artists, including Dale Chihuly, Jorge Pardo, and Tiffany & Co.
Jordan holds a B.F.A. from the California College of Arts and Crafts. Additionally, he has attended the Pilchuck Glass School numerous times, in a variety of capacities, over the past 20 years.
G Brian Juk combines techniques in blown, kiln-cast, and hot-worked solid glass to create colorful and functional glass. By making utilitarian pieces, he feels a deeper connection with the user, forging a relationship with someone who is drinking from one of his tumblers or using a candy dish. He also enjoys mixing colors to create his identifiable color schemes. "Glass is intrinsically beautiful, both the process and the final piece," said Juk. "There's no other material that blends color and mixes color like glass.”
First introduced to hot glass in 1998 in his hometown of Detroit, Juk went on to earn a BFA in glass in 2001 at Alfred University. He worked at The Rakow Library and The Studio before joining the Hot Glass team in 2004, narrating and demonstrating for audiences from around the world. In the time since then, he has studied and learned from some of the most talented glassmakers in the world including Pino Signoretto, Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen, and James Mongrain among others. He traveled extensively with the Hot Glass at Sea program and numerous outreach engagements including GlassLab, working closely with designers to prototype unique objects in glass.
Well-known for his fantastically large sculptures, George Kennard appreciates the limitless opportunities of manipulating molten glass. He prefers to create massive incalmo works by joining two blown glass bubbles to make different bands of color, and has worked with teams of up to 10 glassblowers to create some of his most notable large-scale works. “As a glass artist, I enjoy making large-scale pieces because it's a challenge and you really need to rely on a team for the effort,” said Kennard. Some of his works include a life-sized snow family and the world’s largest glass pumpkin.
After spending eight years working in private studios, Kennard began his tenure at the Museum in 2001 as an instructor in The Studio, teaching beginning and intermediate classes in glassblowing. His role at the Museum expanded to being part of the Hot Glass Team, where he assists glassmaking demonstrations both onsite and abroad through the Mobile Hot Shop.
Having blown glass since 1990, Kennard values the Museum’s extensive resources to further his adventures in glassmaking: “The Museum is a great source of inspiration with the vast collection it has and the resources at the Studio.”
Charlotte Lemaire is a French glassmaker and designer who focuses on the transparency and translucent properties of glass. She has worked with several major glass companies and artists, including Cristallerie Baccarat and Marc Petrovic. Fascinated by the relationship we have with things we touch throughout the day without realizing it, Lemaire creates pieces with a focus on their subtle existence. "The qualities of the glass as transparency and translucence gave to my project the dimension of the idea of touching without noticing it, because it is something that is there but we don’t feel it anymore. We can see through the glass, we know it is there but it doesn’t block the view."
D.H. McNabb grew up as a son of a military officer in Tampa, Fla. His eyes often wandered the globe in his father’s den, seeking to find where his parents had lived and traveled. He dreamt that he too would travel and glass has done just that. Glass has enabled him to see and to learn: a world, a vision, a practice. Corning, Seattle, Prague, Lybster, Weil am Rhein, Murano, Nuutajärvi, and Istanbul are just a few of the places this material has taken McNabb. Glassmakers Stephen Powell, Lino Tagliapietra, and Dale Chihuly, along with others, have helped him negotiate his practice. McNabb says, “I have a memory from all these experiences, a memory though a material. Glass itself has a memory.”
Eric Meek has worked to become a versatile glass artist, able to execute ideas in glass with fluency in the material. When working, Meek likes to draw upon tradition and fine craftsmanship to realize modern, elegant forms. As a process-oriented artist, his personal style has often taken a back seat to his desire to become an accomplished technician. “I’ve been inspired by passionate makers I have met and their relationship to the material,” said Meek. “Their passion comes through the technique to give their work a special quality.”
After earning a degree from Bowling Green State University, Meek worked at the production studio at the Henry Ford Museum. He went on to earn his MFA from Kent State University and taught at the Glasfachschule Kramsach in Austria for six years. Meek first came to Corning, N.Y., to take classes, before starting as demonstrator and then teaching classes in glassblowing himself. A gaffer at the Museum since 2002, he has traveled extensively with the Museum through numerous outreach engagements and now manages the Museum's hot glass programs. Recently, Meek has relied on his experience as a glassmaker to design both the Amphitheater Hot Shop and the Mobile Hot Shop. He served as a guest evaluator on the season finale of Blown Away, the first-ever TV competition series featuring the art of glassblowing, to help select the winner of the competition.
As an artist who values dedication, Meek appreciates the community of glass enthusiasts who continue to support the Museum and its mission. “It has been the passionate people working here who have made this place a treasure,” Meek said.
Jason Minami earned his BFA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and his MFA from Alfred University, where he also taught as an adjunct professor in the glass department. He assisted in the glass department at Punahou School and worked with artists throughout Hawaii. Minami continued his education at the Pilchuck Glass School and at The Studio. Currently, Minami is a manager and glassblowing instructor at GlassRoots, a non-profit glass studio focused on serving youth through glass arts in Newark, NJ.
Dan Mirer began his education at age 16, attending the Rochester Institute of Technology (AAS). He continued to study glass at Alfred University (BFA) and the Pukeberg School of Design, Sweden. A resident of Corning, N.Y., Mirer has been an independent designer/maker since 2004. He creates a range of work including tableware and home décor.
In the past few years, Mirer has been involved with The Corning Museum of Glass; in its Hot Glass programs as well as The Studio’s Artist-in-Residence program. He has taught at Alfred University, Pilchuck Glass School, Penland School of Crafts, the Toledo Museum of Art, and The Corning Museum of Glass.
In September 2011, Mirer and Nisha Bansil completed a Collaborative Residency at The Studio. Mirer and Bansil combined the techniques of photo sandblasting and blown glass, and developed new methods to create bubble trap imagery. With Mirer’s strengths in craftsmanship and technical innovation and Bansil’s emphasis on pure imagery using the two dimensional qualities of glass, the artists collaborated to create new work that neither would accomplish alone. Mirer saw his residency at The Studio as a way to keep his work fresh, affording him the time to explore new techniques in glassblowing.
A storyteller by nature, Lewis R. Olson is attracted to the endless possibilities in using glass as a medium for communication. His work embodies his fascination with the sensual, sculptural, optical, and functional properties of glass. “I think glass in itself, because of its nature, just inspires creativity,” said Olson. “Quite often for me I'm looking at this molten blob of glass, and I actually see the piece that I'm creating inside of it. I feel like it's just waiting to come out of the material.”
Olson began working with glass in his native New Zealand in the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, his passion for glass took him to Australia, Africa, Canada, England, Scandinavia, and Italy where he worked in glass studios and factories. His work can be seen throughout the world in private and public collections. In 2008, he joined the Hot Glass Team at The Corning Museum of Glass and traveled extensively with numerous outreach engagements including GlassLab, working closely with designers to prototype unique objects in glass.
While not defining his glassmaking with a certain technique or style, he is strongly influenced by Italian and European glassmaking. He’s currently interested in using glass to explore his cultural roots of New Zealand, using color and texture that is representational of both landscape and flora as well as referencing designs from traditional Maori arts and carvings.
Chris Rochelle enjoys the constant, steady focus that forming glass demands. A common thread in his work is creating tight forms with clean edges and lines, which he was trained to do throughout his time as a production glassmaker. With a love for sculpture, he finds Venetian-style goblet-making provides a great platform to bring those avenues together: forming thin bubbles into nice shapes and joining them together with sculpted components. "In much of my artwork, I find myself attempting to make order out of chaos, like taking a snapshot of something that is in constant change,” said Rochelle. “With glass, I thrive on the constant attention it demands to push the boundary between fluid and solid state."
Rochelle’s path as a glass artist traces back to Hartwick College, where he got his first taste of working glass while earning a degree in sculpture. After graduating in 1999, he apprenticed in a glass studio in Western Massachusetts. He spent the next 10 years in production glassmaking, including several years at the Steuben Glass Factory in Corning, N.Y. In 2009, Rochelle joined the team at The Corning Museum of Glass where he traveled extensively with the Hot Glass at Sea Program and numerous outreach engagements, including GlassLab, where he worked closely with designers from all over the world to prototype unique objects in glass.
The Museum takes on a variety of specialty glassmaking projects on a regular basis, which allows Rochelle to work alongside and learn from world-class artists. “Our team also supports the collections at the Museum with live glassmaking demonstrations, helping to give visitors a deeper understanding about the material,” said Rochelle. “Being here has allowed me to grow not just as an artist, but an educator as well.”
Amy Ruza takes her inspiration from the natural world for her art forms. She studied at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and served as an assistant at the Museum’s Hot Glass Show. She currently works for the Rockwell Museum in Corning, N.Y.
Ian Messenger Schmidt, the son of two glass artists, grew up in Toledo, Ohio, home to the American Studio Glass movement. In 2010, he graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craftsmen with a B.F.A. in glass sculpture. Ian is proud to be working for the Museum, which houses his parents’ works in glass, and guides and shapes the education and commemoration of glass.
Annie Shepherd first started blowing glass while attending Hastings College in her home state of Nebraska. Her passion for the material grew, and eventually led her to the east coast to complete her BFA at Alfred University. Since graduation, Shepherd has primarily worked in a production setting, exercising her diverse arsenal of skills in several areas and holding positions from cold working to gaffing. Most recently, she has been assisting several artists and teaching private lessons in Brooklyn, N.Y. Shepherd’s personal body of work, whether two or three dimensional, tends to revolve around the theme of cartography.
Daniel Spitzer began working with glass in 1986 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 1989 he was invited to join the crew at Dale Chihuly’s studio in Seattle, Wash. During his decade with Chihuly, he worked on several large-scale installation projects including the Lobby at Bellagio and Chandeliers over Venice. He has worked closely with many other leading glass artists, including Lino Tagliapietra, Sonja Blomdahl, Pino Signoretto, Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick.
In addition to his own work and commissions, Spitzer has made work for many non-glassworking artists. The most challenging of these projects was a series of full-size blown glass car tires for Robert Rauschenberg, completed in 2001 and now in the permanent collection of The Corning Museum of Glass.
He has taught at The Studio of The Corning Museum, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and Pilchuck Glass School, and been a Visiting Artist at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and The National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland. His awards have included a Wheaton Fellowship at the Creative Glass Center of America, the New York Metropolitan Glass Society Award, and an Artist Residency at the Pittsburgh Glass Center.
From growth patterns, developmental structures, and surface textures, Helen Tegeler feels there are infinite design possibilities when interpreting nature in glass. She loves exploring seeds in particular and the potential they hold for great change, searching for meaning in their transformation and making connections to the way we grow and set roots in our own lives. “With time, seeds transition from deceivingly simple forms to more sophisticated and complex organisms,” said Tegeler. “It is not my intent to copy nature, but rather pay homage to the unique and beautiful qualities of life.” She enjoys working with glass and mixed media together to explore the various transitions possible in both form and material.
Tegeler has an MFA from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and her work has been featured in exhibitions across the country, as well as in the Museum’s New Glass Review 32. She has taught at several academic institutions including Harrisburg Area Community College, Tyler School of Art, and the University of Louisville. She has worked for the Museum since 2010, traveling, demonstrating, and sharing her love of glass with the world.
“This is certainly a center for knowledge and inspiration,” said Tegeler, who participated in a residency at The Studio in 2015. As a glass artist, Tegeler considers the Museum to be a community hub to grow as a glassmaker.
Matthew Urban attended the Philadelphia College of Art and Design, where he studied industrial design and glass. After completing his BFA, he worked at the Tyler School of Art, and the Philadelphia College of Art and Design. Urban has been a production assistant for Michael Schunke at Nine Iron Studio, and Tom Farbanish at Certified Glass, as well as an artist-in-residence, instructor, and gaffer with The Corning Museum of Glass, and a staff member at Pilchuck Glass School.
Urban has studied and worked around the world with numerous master glassmakers including Lino Tagliapietra, Pino Signoretti, Dino Rosin, Gianni Toso, Elio Quarisa, Checco Ongaro, Davide Fuin, and Davide Salvadore.
In May 2007, he completed his master's degree at Illinois State University in Glass/Sculpture. In 2010 he completed building his artist studio, focused on creating an ultra-low carbon footprint. Urban uses only recycled glass for all his designs and sculpture. He is the owner of Furnace Urbini Glass Works since 1999.