As a queer person of mixed race, Corey Pemberton often feels other. Knowing nothing about his African roots and very little about his European heritage, the artist considers lineage and the idea of connectedness in his glass art, paintings, and other works on paper. Pemberton’s vessels, blown glass baskets based on those of his presumed ancestors, are made in a European style that borrows forms and patterns from the sweetgrass weavers of South Africa. He says: “I use color and pattern as vehicles to describe situations where society has used a person’s uniqueness against them; where people have been labeled or categorized based on physical characteristics in an effort to hold them back. Can we, as a society, find a way to unite in our otherness?”
Born in Reston, Virginia, in 1990, Pemberton received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012. After graduating and relocating to Augusta, Missouri, he worked as a production glassblower under Sam Stang and Kaeko Maehata. Subsequent travel through Norway and Denmark exposed the young artist to both country’s rich design history as he worked with fellow glass artists. Upon return to the US, Pemberton participated in a Core Fellowship at Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, North Carolina.
Currently residing in Los Angeles, Pemberton splits time between production glassblowing, his painting practice, and Crafting the Future (CTF), an organization he co-founded with furniture artist Annie Evelyn in early 2019. CTF partners with organizations across the country such as Louisiana’s Young Aspirations/Young Artists, known as YAYA; Kentucky’s STEAM Exchange; North Carolina’s Penland School of Craft; and Maine’s Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, with the goal of increasing access to education and opportunity for underrepresented artists in order to help them develop thriving careers. In 2019, CTF raised more than $8,000 to send two young New Orleans students, Tyrik Conaler and Shanti Broom, to Penland School of Craft.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, a growing number of artists have banded together to fundraise for student scholarships. The CTF membership page went live in February 2020, and in the next three months culled around 50 members and $2,000. Following the killing of George Floyd and several other innocent African Americans, and the ensuing protests that raised awareness of racial injustice, membership increased to more than 1,200 by late May. Over the next few months, CTF raised over $175,000 for scholarships and other programming, though more is needed to affect lasting change.
If you’re interested in joining or donating to Crafting the Future, visit:
Striving to bring together people of all backgrounds and identities, Pemberton breaks down stereotypes and builds bridges, not only through his work with CTF, but in his personal artistic practice. In the artist’s recent solo show creature, comfort at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) of Raleigh, North Carolina, painting, photography, and hand-blown glass came together to create visual environments that depicted subjects in both real and imagined homes. Pemberton’s goal was and is to make his subjects relatable and intriguing, so that viewers consider those subjects fully and are able to see themselves in the work.
Join Corey Pemberton next spring at the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Perry Glass Studio for a lecture and free demonstrations during the 2021 Visiting Artist Series. Next summer, the artist is scheduled to teach at Pilchuck and in the fall at Penland with Cedric Mitchell.
On the morning of September 8, a dry brush field north of Ashland, Oregon, caught fire along Almeda Drive. The National Weather Service called for a red-flag wind warning that day, predicting gusts upward of 50 mph, which was bad news for Oregon fire officials. The state was already battling more than 10 other major fire incidents, exhausting state resources. Strong winds from the east pushed the fire north, parallel to Interstate 5, resulting in the complete destruction of the towns of Talent and Phoenix, Oregon.
Before it stopped, the Almeda fire burned more than 3,200 acres, destroyed 3,000 structures, including one of Fire District 5’s three firehouses, and killed 3 people. It stopped south of Medford, a city of 82,000 residents, when the winds eventually shifted. Police said the Almeda fire had two points of origin, the first in Ashland and one later in Phoenix. Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, has been charged with starting one of the fires.
Artist studios destroyed by the fire include DoJo Glass Studio, Phoenix, including glassblowers Big Country, Jay (birddog) Harrower, Amani Summerday, Mia Shae Williams and Doug (Taco) Williams. Other glass community members affected by the Almeda fire include artists Ron Regan, Adam Kissinger, Bernie Rodriguez, Jenay Elder and Gabe Arafai; glass collectors Shawn Thompson and Benjamin. Two dispensarys burned to the ground, and those employees are also being helped by the Southern Oregon Glass Community Relief fund, to which over 350 people have donated so far.
On September 13, birddogart posted on his Instagram:
As most of you have already heard or seen, several miles of our beautiful little Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon burned down on September 8th due to a catastrophic wildfire. Over 3000 homes burned, countless businesses burned to the ground, and many lost everything. Our shop was one of the businesses lost that day. As with any disaster, many have risen to support those affected. We have local efforts as well as the national support of the glass and cannabis industries, which has been phenomenal. I know there has been some confusion as to which GoFundMe is which and who gets what help. None of us has ever been through loss like this before, and there is no handbook, so we’ve done our best, and we are supporting each other as well.
The support and love from this community has been overwhelming. There is a team of us making sure that the disbursement of funds is equitable, and that people have their needs met. My vision is that we will be made whole very soon because you all rock, and then we can be pillars in our community and help those who don’t have access to the amount of amazing people and resources that we do. We will get through this together, and I can’t express enough how much you all have meant to us during this trying time, whether it be shops, collectors, or other artists. Thank you so much!
In this conversation, Lacey St. George Walton, aka LaceFace, discusses the fire and its effects on her local glass and cannabis communities. Talking Out Your Glass podcast and all of its sponsors, along with Mountain Glass and Lampwork Supply, have made donations to Southern Oregon Glass Community Relief (SOGCR). Click on the link below to donate now!! Follow @LaceFaceglass on Instagram for the latest on the recovery.
Celebrated for her innovative, colorful blown glass and flameworked Amulet Baskets, Laura Donefer is also known for artwork that pushes boundaries by exploring memory, assault, bereavement, joy and madness. The artist has been using glass as the primary medium in her work for over 38 years, all while teaching, producing unforgettable glass fashions shows and promoting the glass arts worldwide.
Born in Ithaca, New York, but raised in rural Quebec, Donefer studied sculpture for a year in 1973 at the National Art School of Cubanacan in Havana. Back in Canada, in 1975 she graduated with honors in Literature and Languages from Dawson College and in 1979 with honors from McGill University, both located in Montreal, Quebec. After traveling the world and working with many interesting people, Donefer trained as a glass artist at Sheridan College, Ontario, graduating in 1985.
A tireless promoter, Donefer lectured extensively on Canadian contemporary glass in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Australia, including the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C.; the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona; the University of Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii; and during AUSGLASS in Sydney, Australia. She curated a number of exhibitions in the United States to showcase Canadian work. In 1985, as president of the Glass Art Association of Canada (GAAC), Donefer was instrumental in uniting glass artists across Canada by publishing a quarterly magazine, The Glass Gazette, which developed into the major voice of Canadian glass artists. In 2006, GAAC awarded Donefer its first Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her tireless efforts in the advancement of art glass in Canada.
By conducting countless workshops worldwide, Donefer has influenced students from Red Deer College, Alberta, to Penland School of Crafts, Bakersfield, North Carolina, to the Sonoran School, Tucson, Arizona; and beyond in Japan and Australia. She served on the staff in the glass department at Sheridan College and was permanent faculty at Espace Verre, Montreal, for over 18 years, helping to mold the school with her dynamic classes. She continues to teach regularly at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, and at the Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, where she has served on the International Council for 17 years.
Since the mid-1980s, Donefer’s work has been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions, including shows at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Japan; the Art Gallery of Western Australia; the Hammelev Arts and Culture Centre in Denmark; the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston; the Museo del Vidrio in Mexico; and the Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai, China. Her sculpture is included in many public and private collections, including the Corning Museum of Glass; the Tacoma Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington; the Museum of Art and Design, Manhattan; Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida; Barry Art Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan; and the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio. She is currently represented by Habatat Gallery and Sandra Ainsley Gallery.
A past board member of the Glass Art Society (GAS), in 2008 the organization presented Donefer with its prestigious Honorary Membership Award. Donefer has produced 15 of her unforgettable glass fashion shows, many for the organization. In 2018, her ground-breaking event included 33 glass costumes in 12 gondolas gliding through the canals in Murano, Italy. Her next glass fashion show is slated for GAS 2022. Donefer has also been awarded The Lifetime Achievement Award from Craft Ontario; the International Flameworking Award for “extraordinary contributions to the glass art world”; and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass award for her role in the glass community.
On hiatus due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Donefer spends her days near Harrowsmith, Ontario, with her amazing husband “The Mighty Dave” and her dachshund Mr. Lance. She has become a mushroom detective, searching for and photographing these living sculptures and their unique forms and colors while exploring a new body of Covid Anxiety paintings. Donefer’s collaboration with glassblower extraordinaire Jeff Mack is currently on view in a ground-breaking exhibition curated by Tina Oldknow and Bill Warmus, Venice and American Studio Glass, at Le Stanze del Vetro Museum in Venice.