The director of the Kent State University School of Art Collection and Galleries discusses the 50th anniversary of the school of art’s glass program and the extensive programming that surrounds it, including “Kent State Glass@50,” “Emerging Glass” and “Tim Stover: Linear Integration,” all of which open from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 6 in Kent. 

The 50th anniversary of the glass program is significant. What role has Kent State’s glass program played over the years in both the local and national art scenes?

 Kent State University is one of only a handful of places where you can earn an MFA in glass. Because of this fact, it has played a role not only regionally, but also nationally and internationally. Henry Halem (who founded the program) was the first President of the Glass Art Society, now the largest glass organization in the world. He also brought a steady stream of artists to Kent, including American glass innovator Dale Chihuly, Czech glass sculptors Stanislav Libensky and Dana Zamecnikova, and Sweden’s Bertil Valien.

Mark Abildgaard, “Spirit House – Apparition,” glass, 2017. Courtesy of the Kent State University School of Art.

There’s a lot of great programming surrounding the anniversary, including three exhibitions and a series of lectures. Let’s start with “Kent State Glass@50” — what can visitors expect from that show?

 This is a nationally curated exhibition that features works chosen by Davin K. Ebanks, assistant professor, glass, at Kent State University, and Benjamin Johnson, chair of glass at the Cleveland Institute of Art, both of whom are also alumni of the Kent State University School of Art’s Glass program. The show highlights interesting work from around the country that shows off what is happening in glass currently.

What can visitors expect from “Emerging Glass“?

“Emerging Glass” is a national juried show which was chosen from more than 175 entries. The jurors were Davin K. Ebanks, assistant professor, glass, at Kent State University, and Pittsburgh-based glass artist Lisa Demagall. This exhibit offers a variety of different artists who were identify as “emerging” to show off the unique and innovative ways they are trying to express themselves through glass. Unique works like Washington-based artist Terri Grant’s “Big BandAid,” made from kiln-formed glass and gold foil by Benton City, and Bowling Green, Ohio-based artist Lou Kreuger’s “The Camera Man,” which is a sculptural piece that is also camera obscura, highlight some of the unique pieces in the show.

Brent Kee Young, “Matrix Series: Looking East …,” flame-worked boroscilicate glass, 2014. Courtesy of the Kent State University School of Art.

The third exhibition is “Linear Integration,” a solo show of Tim Stover’s work. What can you tell us about that?

 Tim Stover has created a series of exquisite sculptures that “study the effects of contrasting colors, textures and shapes.” They range in color from bright blue and pink to an earthy burnt umber. A unique aspect of the pieces is that they are created with glass, a special type of resin and through “using a tedious process of assembling blocks with colored adhesives.” Further, he often carves the glass shapes by hand after they are formed, which helps create an edge and a tension in the sculptures that help make them more distinct and interesting.

Timothy Stover, “Vestige,” glass, 2016. Courtesy of the Kent State University School of Art.

Lastly, there are a number of speaking engagements — including a lecture by Henry Halem, who will discuss the glass program’s history — as well as artist and curator talks. What are the highlights?

Aside from the openings on Sept. 6 and Henry Halem’s lecture, we have two other events that will occur throughout the month. At noon on Sept. 13, Kari Russell-Pool and Marc Petrovic, two of the artists who are included in the “Kent State Glass@50” exhibition will give a joint artist talk about their individual and collaborative practices. They are a Cleveland-based couple who both graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art. At 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 21, curator of “Kent State Glass@50,” Davin Ebanks, will give a gallery talk at the CVA Gallery during the university’s homecoming celebrations. The School of Art will also have an open house that day, including student sales and demonstrations in the studios. All of these events are free and open to the public.

Lead image: Alli Hoag, “Trace Decay,” taxidermy fawn, cast glass, mixed media, 2019. Courtesy of the Kent State University School of Art.