‘Not like anything you will have ever experienced’

Why should you consider taking a glass blowing glass at Virginia Wesleyan University?
The art of glass blowing is an ancient and unique art form. It is not like anything you will have ever experienced before or will encounter again. Manipulating this molten material that is the consistency of honey is a lesson of a lifetime. You will be mesmerized. You will be humbled. You will learn to let go of attachment.
Glass blowing encompasses much more than an artist working alone in their studio. It is rather a dance between multiple individuals moving together to create a desired piece. To realize your design you must dictate your needs to your teammates so that they can assist you in the production. You must learn to take charge in the heat of the moment, leading the team through the delicate process. When acting as an assistant to the glass blower who is creating their piece you must take on the humble role of responding to their needs. These different roles teach leadership and servitude transferring into your everyday life. The aspect of teamwork brings students to form strong bonds and lasting friendships as well.
Working with molten glass is a step by step process that is very challenging and strengthens one’s perseverance and intellect. In the class we give one on one instruction to help you through each step of the process. The glass which must stay above 1,000 degrees fahrenheit can crack if not carefully attended to. Shattered glass on the floor reminds students to let go of attachment, to stay strong, and to start once more. In time you remember the dance and gain muscle memory through repetition finding greater success in this fast-paced, old-age art-form.
As an instructor I focus on balance, there is an important balance that must be considered when teaching. That balance lies between control and freedom. As a teacher I take charge of my students, yet also allow for free thinking and ingenuity. Without freedom to explore, individuals do not learn to be experimental, which results in less creativity. I teach the fundamentals and at the same time give them the freedom to develop their own unique designs.
I introduce concepts in the beginning courses and always allow students to use other materials or art forms to enhance their projects, encouraging whatever material is necessary to be effective. Early on, critical thinking, as well as, learning the appropriate vocabulary for discussing artworks is introduced. Understanding how to put concept into a piece of artwork, being able to discuss that idea, and knowing how to present the work is a crucial part of being an artist.
I lecture on historical and contemporary art that relates to the project being presented. Also I tie the ideas behind the artwork with the world at large, which in turn, ensures discussion within the class. As humans we draw inspiration from our surroundings, internalizing stimuli to formulate ideas. I want students to be able to think and talk about their lives within the culture they live in.
Glass blowing is a class that will expand any student’s horizons whether they are art majors or non-art majors. Learning to control a material that itself is so alive while working with a team is a humbling and rewarding experience. You will find the freedom to use multiple materials and to explore your own ideas that inspire you. I encourage collaboration and discussion to create a learning environment that brings individuals closer. This enables you to feel free to express your ideas within the community of art school.

By Julia Rogers