Founded in 1977 by artists Richard Yelle and Erik Erikson as the New York Experimental Glass Workshop, UrbanGlass was the first artist-access glass center in the United States and is now the largest. Previously, those interested in working in glass could only do so at art schools, in factories or by building their own studios. When UrbanGlass opened its doors, glass as an art medium became available for the first time to a wide range of artists at an affordable price.
Today, the facility of UrbanGlass serves as the primary studio of over 150 artists each year. In addition to the artist-access studio, UrbanGlass offers a comprehensive education program of classes, workshops and intensives at every skill level - from novice to professional - in a wide variety of glassworking techniques, including glassblowing, hot casting, kiln casting, lampworking, fusing, slumping, neon, mosaics, stained glass and coldworking. Over 500 students a year come from around the world to study and work with a faculty that includes world renowned artists and designers and acknowledged glass masters. Other UrbanGlass programs include GLASS: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly, the pre-eminent English language publication covering the contemporary glass scene today; The Bead Project, an entrepreneurial program for economically disadvantaged women that has become a model for similar programs worldwide; the Robert Lehman Gallery, which focuses on exhibitions of glass art by emerging artists; the Atelier program, which acts as a resource to artists, architects and design professionals wishing to incorporate glass into their work; and the Visiting Artist Fellowships, which brings emerging and established artists into the UrbanGlass community. Through the depth and variety of its programs, UrbanGlass continues to be a distinctive and influential presence in the glass field and the most important East Coast center and resource for artists wishing to experiment with glass.
UrbanGlass is housed at an interim location at 126 13th Street in Brooklyn while its home at 647 Fulton Street in the historic former Strand Theater is being renovated. Situated in New York City, the art capital of the world, UrbanGlass enjoys access to a wealth of cultural resources, including dozens of world class museums and thousands of galleries and exhibition spaces. Here, at the fertile interface of art, opera, theater, design, fashion, music and cuisine, UrbanGlass artists and students find inspiration and context to transform and inform their lives and their art.