Corning Museum of Glass an innovative place to explore

As I walk into the Corning Museum’s light filled galleries, finally having a chance to visit the world famous glass and art museum, Vanessa German’s new sculpture is greeting me with its elevated presence. The blue sculptural figure is titled “The Walker; for how to honor the price of compassion– how not to die of lies” (2017).

Vanessa German, The walker; for how to honor the price of compassion– how not to die of lies, 2017.

This recent acquisition in the museum’s collections is a sculptural work defining new parameters. Vanessa German is a multidisciplinary artist, sculptor, poet, and performance artist. In her work, she has used mixed-media, found objects and blown glass to create a sculpture that celebrate cultures and identities of the black people. Anti-black violence has been a subject matter in her work; the art is showing identity, resilience, and community building, giving a voice for the marginalized.  

The entry gallery in the museum has a curated theme ‘The Body and Narrative’. The curatorial intent is to display invisible structures attached to the body and identity. Art glass is pushing the contemporary art point of view,  questioning narratives about shared human experiences. On the other hand, works depict ideas and abstractions that create personal and emotional attachments.  

Cat Burns_Va-Cume! Nemesis to Oliver the Amazing_2019
Cat Burns, Va-Cume! Nemesis to Oliver the Amazing, 2019.

Glass. Glass. Glass. Design glass and art glass, functional everyday household goods. Design beyond its formative use, and sculptural glass.  A ‘functional object’ can also become subject for the art glass. Such is the case with a sculpture by Cat Burns. The idea behind her sculpture, “Va-Cume! Nemesis to Oliver the Amazing” (2019), is based on a dog named Oliver. The evil Va-cume comes out of closet sucking up all the crumbs before Oliver can get and eat them. Innovative art glass at its best.

Speaking about glass sculpture, “Meteor, Flower, Bird” (1980), by Stanislav Libensky & Jaroslava Brychtova is all about transparency in a form, one of the super qualities of glass.

Transparency is one of the most important and most characteristic aspects of glass. It is penetrating; it dematerializes the material and connects with the atmosphere. – Stanislav Libensky

Meteor, Flower, Bird, Libensky & Brychtova, 1980.

It’s not only true for the beautiful glass goblets that come in different colors and patterns that capture our attention in glass. Or in the innovative crystal used as fancy glassware. Designs depicting sunsets, introducing reds, yellows, oranges, new shapes, captivating circles. ‘Milky’ glass, textured glass, colored glass, different patterns. In Finland, design glass has been around for everyday use for decades as objects and decorative vases. And, in fact has become world renown since the signature styles have been successfully branded by Iittala. The Corning Museum has its own share of Finnish designers. Tapio Wirkkala, Kaj Franck, and Alvar Aalto, among others, have become household names in the world museums.

Finnish glass art is inspired by nature, and creates allure with exotic approach to color and form. The Midnight sun being one of the most inspiring phenomenon in the Arctic regions. Here’s to celebrate the Midsummer. 

  1. Kaj Franck, Pokals (1965), made between 1972-77. 2. Tapio Wirkkala, Plate, 1968.

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