Celebrating with a Bunch of Squares
Mar 31, 2020 10:33AM
By Karey Solomon
Creating art is a joyful way to leave your mark on the world. In the lead-up to Corning’s eleventh annual GlassFest (being held this year from July 30 to August 2), members of the community and visitors who love being here are invited to create a four-inch-square glass tile to contribute to a “glass quilt,” to be seen for the first time at this year’s festival. Organizers hope people will commemorate their love of color and community in a work of art to grace the area forever.
You can book a slot at the Make Your Own Glass studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, purchase a small fusing project ($23), and tell the instructor before beginning that your tile is for donation to the GlassFest Quilt. (Check GlassFest.org for the deadline to get your square in the quilt.) Friends might come together to celebrate a friendship. Quilt groups may represent themselves and the quilts they make by choosing glass pieces like quilt squares to arrange on their tile—after all, fusing glass is quicker than sewing because the heat of a glass kiln makes everything stick together.
“I’m a quilter, and nothing gives me greater joy than making a quilt someone else can enjoy,” says Coleen Fabrizi, executive director of Corning’s Gaffer District. “Part of my heart goes into every stitch. I thought we could merge those ideas together [quilts and glass] and make something that symbolizes the community and its support for GlassFest.”
Coleen says the Crystal City is the first place producing a piece of public art of this kind and on this scale. “And I love it that absolutely anyone could contribute,” she says.
The project had a soft beginning last year when tiles were made to commemorate GlassFest sponsors. That smaller piece was hung on the wall at the Radisson Hotel in Corning. This year’s tiles will be displayed on large sheets of canvas, laid on the ground.
Dr. Connie Sullivan-Blum, executive director of the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, hopes many artists in different media will take some time to make a tile, envisioning those pieces as a moment of exchange between different art forms. “Now it’s open to the public to contribute a piece that would be created for the community, rather than something that would only be seen in the home,” she says. “I see this as an opportunity to play a bit, get this experience, and contribute to this larger piece.”
The result will be spontaneous art, a new, larger piece to emerge from the mosaic of individual contributions. “One of the things that’s exciting is that the experience will be something you can’t predict. I’m just doing a small piece of it, but I won’t control it. I’m excited about that,” Connie says.
Because glass lasts a long time, the tiles that make up Corning’s glass quilt will be on display at future GlassFests as the “quilt” grows. Sections will be displayed around Corning through the year, and will also appear on the Gaffer District’s website, where it can be enjoyed even by those only able to visit virtually. But Coleen can also imagine visitors looking for the piece they offered to the glass quilt each year they visit the festival, when the quilt might appear in a new configuration of squares. “We don’t know yet how large it will be,” says Connie. “We see this as a multi-year project in different stages. We’ll see what comes from it—I think it will be fun!”