Jane Cook was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where she was nurtured in her twin loves of science and art by an industrial artist father. He taught her painting, landscape horticulture, automotive repair, and allowed her bedroom to be converted into a chemistry laboratory. Jane attended engineering schools, and received a B.S. in materials engineering from New Mexico Tech, and a Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1998. She worked for 17 years in research and development at Corning, Inc., was named inventor on over 30 patent applications, and received Corning’s prestigious Stookey Award for outstanding exploratory research. She specialized in exploring new ways of making the ultra-high quality, high-temperature glass that enables today’s flat-screen displays, and silicon semiconductors for photovoltaic solar panels.
Throughout the time in the industry, Cook continued to pursue painting, digitally and with acrylics, as means of personal expression. And after leaving corporate life in 2014 to be the Chief Scientist at the Corning Museum of Glass, she began to learn to work glass by hand, focusing on furnace blown and shaped sculptural forms. She pulls from her science and engineering background to explore themes of emergence within shifting reference frames, and the blurry lines between chaos, patterns, and understanding.
In the last three years, Cook has become a highly sought-after lecturer and teacher on the fundamental science of glass for non-scientists, and the nature of creativity and invention at the so-called “art/science interface.” In addition to giving regular lectures and classes at The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, she travels extensively to colleges, universities, and art schools (including Pilchuck, UrbanGlass, MIT, and RISD) to show makers, artists, and craftspeople to use that knowledge to inform and advance their work in glass and mixed media.