Spring 2008 / Issue 110add to cartIn the mid 1960s, American universities were overflowing with a record number of baby boomer students. Administrators and faculty eager to embrace unconventional ways of doing things began competing with one another to start glassblowing programs. At the time, just about the only way to find a glassblowing professor with academic credentials was to hire one of Harvey Littleton's graduate students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. These young glassblowing professors, some of whom had themselves just graduated, rolled up their sleeves and, with their students, hand-built the glass studios that sprung up in art schools around the nation.
The problem according to Marvin Lipofsky, who started the program at University of California, Berkeley, in 1964, was that each of these young professors, like himself, was a one-person show and there were few opportunities to learn from fellow faculty members at their institutions since glass was such a new field.
Lipofsky wanted to share what he had learned about the best teaching methods with his counterparts at other schools, and so he started the Great California Glass Symposium in 1968. In the days before Pilchuck, or the Glass Art Society, this was one of the first places where the Studio Glass movement came together in the spirit of camaraderie and the sharing of knowledge that would define it over the ensuing decades. It is notable that this seminal event, which we revisit in rarely seen photographs from Lipofsky's personal archive, was first and foremost a symposium. Education was critically important to the rapid development of glass as a medium for contemporary art from its earliest days.
Two of the artists featured in this special issue are well-known educators. Brent Kee Young, the subject of this issue's cover article, leads the glass program at the Cleveland Institute of Art. His fascinating Pyrex constructions are a startling reminder of the spirit of inquiry and discovery that glass continues to represent.
Therman Statom, though not on the faculty of a university, is hailed by John Drury as an educator who leads by example, and by the spirit of collaboration he brings to his unique installation projects. Drury writes about the "School of Therman" when discussing the profound impact Statom had on his own work and on others, such as the De la Torre brothers, who were also enrolled in this informal academy of adventure, mischief, and creative expression.
Fittingly, the last feature article in the 2008 GLASS Education issue is a history lesson. In the second of two articles about the use of glass in jewelry, Toledo Museum of Art curator Jutta-Annette Page examines the controversial place of glass in the history of jewelry-making, where it has been used to fool the eye as well as for its intrinsic beauty. Rounding out this special edition is our annual listing of glass courses offered around the United States and the world, complete with contact information.