People, Places, Paperweight Exhibit
Paperweights were made by glass workers at American glass factories as regular company production or by the glassblowers on their own time as personal items. Many of these individuals worked their entire careers at the same factory while others left or retired and opened their own small glass businesses.
In the 1850s, the New England Glass Company and the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company were the first American glass companies to produce paperweights as part of the companies’ production. The two factories hired French glassblowers to make the first examples. By the 20th century, glass companies had trained skilled glass workers who made the weights.
Other factories allowed their workers at the end of the day or when their quota was finished to use the glass to make paperweights. These weights were given as gifts or sold for extra money. The most recognized of all these types of paperweights were made by the glass workers at the Whitall Tatum Company in Millville, New Jersey in the 1880s. This practice continued into the late 20th century.
This exhibition illustrates the production of sixteen American glass companies and the paperweights made by individuals associated with the factories.
THE GLASSBOOK PROJECT
June 18 through September 12, 2010
“The GlassBook Project,” a national initiative happening state-by-state and community by community, opens in the Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts on June 18 and continues through September 12. This exhibit of 44 glass books seeks to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and raise awareness about mental health issues including the healing processes that take place after traumatic experiences.
The first collection of glass books was created in an elective Books Art class by artist/professor Nick Kline, Culture and Media Department, Rutgers University-Newark, NJ. Kline challenged college students to learn about the taboo topic of self injury (SIV) and to turn their understanding into a visual glass book. The students were given literature and research on the issue, but nothing helped them better understand the issue than talking with trauma survivors, directly and through poetry. The classroom process took only four weeks, but from this project came an exhibit that has impacted individuals around the nation. Since the campus does not have a glass facility, the books were created with the help and use of the GlassRoots facility (glassroots.org) in Newark.
People who have lived the experience share in the book’s creation and feel understood; providers and communities learn about trauma… a starting point for true social inclusion, healing and empowerment. Through that process, students began to understand trauma and how healing happens, and they created their books to tell the story. The learning and understanding started in the classroom and continues in communities around the country. Even professionals in state mental health departments have commented that the exhibit, and what the students have done, has helped them to truly understand that SIV is an expression and release of deep emotional pain.
The subsequent exposure, through exhibits and presentations, addresses stigma and discrimination and builds understanding. Healing relationships develop and communities benefit as a result. The New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma has united with Rutgers University, Witness Justice and many other groups to support this project.
The national collection, with books from every state in the country, is intended to tour and be exhibited to continue the discussion on trauma and healing. The books are aimed for installation at the Library of Congress, among other prestigious art galleries and high-profile venues. The GlassBook Project is a program of Witness Justice and Rutgers University-Newark, Department of Arts, Media and Culture. Curriculum development is funded by the Center for Mental Health Services, DHHS/SAMHSA. For more information, visit glassbookproject.org.