A Glassblower’s Tour of the Museum of American Glass
by Max Lefko-Everett, Artist
My name is Max Lefko-Everett and I am a resident artist at Wheaton Arts. Like so many before me, I moved to Millville, New Jersey to find work as a glassblower. Upon arriving five years ago i immediately explored the Museum of American Glass. It houses thousands of historical glass objects, photographs of mustachioed men at work in the factories and one of the most important collections of American studio glass- a homegrown movement of artists creating contemporary glass.
Last year, Kristin Qualls, the director of the museum of American glass, asked me to lead a series of tours from the perspective of a glassblower. I was excited to escape the oppressive summer heat of the glass studio, offer visitors my practical knowledge as a glassmaker and mine the collection for inspiration.
The tours were very well attended and visitors asked a host of different questions. Naturally, the inquiries relating to process and technique were easier to field than recollecting the names and dates associated with said objects. Fortunately, the museum labels could answer most questions of this nature when I couldn’t.
As for the older objects in the collection, my favorites are all in the first room of the museum. They are free-blown tableware that ranges from being durable and utilitarian to clunky and funky. These objects stand out to me because of their honest and simple nature. They were not made to be opulent jewels for luxurious homes. They are the sturdy wares of everyday life from an era when glass could only be fashioned by hand.
Fast forward one hundred and fifty years and you have arrived at the museums major exhibit- Wheaton Glass: The Art of the Fellowship, which chronicles past 30 years of CGCA fellowships. The show is a cross section of artists who are considered pioneers in rediscovering handmade glass as well as emerging artists pushing the boundaries of process and product. They come from many countries as well as the United States to and in this way Wheaton Arts has become an internationally recognized hub for glassmakers. I know many of the artists personally and have had the pleasure to work alongside them in the glass studio. This put me in a unique position to describe their processes and concepts they use in their work.
People who work with glass are constantly innovating and yet they always have a foot in the past – it is the nature of the process and material. The Museum of American glass is truly a celebration of this fact. I am proud to say that as an institution, Wheaton Arts is capable of delivering an experience to both the visitors and artists, that is more intimate and personal than many can offer. Here is to the next 150 years!