2012 Exhibitions


“PIONEERS OF AMERICAN STUDIO GLASS: Edris Eckhardt, Maurice Heaton, Frances and Michael Higgins”
Through December 31, 2012

2012 is the 50th anniversary of the glass workshops held at the Toledo Museum of Art which led to the birth of the American Studio Glass Movement. Before the workshop, four pioneer artists were working with glass. Edris Eckhardt, Maurice Heaton and Frances and Michael Higgins began experimenting with glass techniques in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Eckhardt, initially trained in ceramics, invented her own glass formulas to create her sculpture. She may have been the first American studio glass artist to formulate her own glass batch instead of simply melting cullet.

Heaton, a designer of stained glass, became adept at slumping flat sheets of hot glass into or over a mold to form vessel shapes. His work is characterized by detailed, linear patterns created by fusing crushed, colored enamels onto the surface of the glass.

The Higgins’ were a husband-and-wife team who produced commercial tableware for Dearborn Glass. In addition, the couple individually created unique hinged boxes, mobiles, flat panels and vessel forms that were distinguished by their delicate designs.

Once overlooked, today these artists have come to be appreciated for their dedication and creativity which fostered new interest in utilizing glass as art. The pieces on display illustrate the work of all four of these pioneer artists.


Fifty years ago, a glass workshop held at the Toledo Museum of Art under the direction of Harvey Littleton and Dominic Labino, led to the founding of the American Studio Glass Movement.  From this small gathering and the following second workshop, artists began experimenting with glass as an artistic medium.

After the second workshop a report was published stating the purpose of the workshop:

“To introduce the basic material (glass), the molten metal, to the artists and craftsmen- to design and test the equipment which they might construct themselves- to investigate techniques for the artist working alone- to look with this knowledge at the glass of the past and present- to look at education possibilities within the secondary, college and university systems. “

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, glass programs were established at universities, and educational centers offered workshops and summer classes. In 1983, the fellowship program, the Creative Glass Center of America was founded at Wheaton Village (today the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center.) By the early 21st century, museums across the country built glass making demonstration facilities in conjunction with their glass exhibition spaces. Glass, no longer just a utilitarian product, had become a medium of fine art.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary, this exhibition has been organized to illuminate the enormous advances and significant changes in the Movement by the decades. Pieces from the extensive collection of the Museum of American Glass were chosen to illustrate the evolution of American Studio Glass.



The Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts presents a significant retrospective of Rick Ayotte’s work featuring over 100 paperweights and paperweight related objects. The exhibition includes the finest examples from Gordon Park’s large collection of Rick Ayotte’s work. The exhibit will open on May 31 during Paperweight Fest 2012 at WheatonArts and will continue until October 14.

“My goal has always been to interpret nature with a fresh eye; to share the drama I see all around me. Most importantly, I want to remind others of their own stories by telling them some of mine.” — Rick Ayotte