Arguably the hottest show on Netflix, the glassblowing competition series Blown Away–once again featuring expert glassmakers from The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) –returned for a second season on January 22, 2021. The Museum also hosts an exhibit of work made during Season 2, featuring one object from each of the 10 contestants. The exhibit Blown Away: Season 2 opened on the Museum’s West Bridge the day the show launched.
CMoG, which houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass, the library of record on glass, and one of the top glassmaking schools in the world, has served as a key consulting partner for the series since its conception. When the first season of Blown Away launched in the summer of 2019, CMoG was invited into the spotlight, bringing to the program its expertise in an artform that much of the world was discovering for the first time through the show.
“We are so pleased to again partner with marblemedia to put glass in a global spotlight,”said the Museum’s president and executive director, Karol Wight, of CMoG’s relationship with the Canadian production company behind Blown Away. “Watching new audiences around the world embrace glassblowing because of this series has been exciting, and we look forward to seeing that enthusiasm grow with the release of a second season.”
This season introduces a new group of 10 talented glassmakers from around the world as they compete for the title of “Best in Glass.” Season 2 is once again hosted by Nick Uhas, with resident evaluator and glass master Katherine Gray.
Andi Kovel, Ben Silver, Brad Turner, Cat Burns, Chris Taylor, Elliot Walker, Jason McDonald, Mike Shelbo, NaoYamamoto, and Tegan Hamilton.
Episode 1: Alexander Rosenberg – Season One Competitor; Episode 2: Benjamin Write – Pilchuck Glass School; Episode 3: Kathryn Durst – Animator and Illustrator; Episode 4: Heather McElwee – Pittsburgh Glass Center; Episode 5: Bobby Berk – Interior Designer “Queer Eye”; Episode 6: Michel Germain – Perfume Designer; Episode 7: Stepheen Weatherly – Defensive End, Carolina Panthers; Episode 8: Sunny Fong – Fashion Designer, VAWK; Episode 9: Deborah Czeresko – Season One Champion; and Episode 10: Robert Cassetti – Corning Museum of Glass.
In the season finale the Museum also provides the two Blown Away finalists with the expert assistance of its Hot Glass Demo Team—Eric Meek, Jeff Mack, Helen Tegeler, Catherine Ayers, George Kennard, and Chris Rochelle. A blockbuster ending to a 20-year career at CMoG, shortly before his retirement from the Museum senior director Rob Cassetti served as the final guest evaluator, helping to select the winner of the competition.
“It feels like I’ve come full circle,” said Cassetti, who developed the Museum’s hot glass programming. “When we first launched our demo at the Museum, we called it the Hot Glass Show, and put our makers on a stage. We knew glass was inherently exciting, and we wanted to bring that to our visitors. So now for the Blown Away series to capture that magic, bottle that energy, and to share it with the world through Netflix it’s really unbelievable, and it was a joyful honor for me to be part of it.”
As part of the prize package, the winner of the show will receive the coveted Blown Away Residency at CMoG. In 2019 the Museum hosted Season 1 winner, Deborah Czeresko, for three week-long working sessions. The residency takes place in the Museum’s Amphitheater Hot Shop where a live audience can meet the winner and watch the artist make new works. CMoG will host the Season 2 winner as soon as COVID restrictions allow.
“We are thrilled that Blown Away returns for a second season, available to Netflix’s global audiences to stream on January 22,” said Matt Hornburg, executive producer and co-CEO of marblemedia. “This show’s success is due in part to our valued partnership with The Corning Museum of Glass, and their unwavering support and guidance. Their contribution to the grand prize, offering a prestigious residency to the winner, raises the stakes that much more. We are thrilled that the Museum is showcasing the exceptional work done by these esteemed glass artists from season two. Seeing these pieces on display, representing the true essence of this show, is very rewarding.”
This special episode of TOYG podcast features interviews with Hornburg, Cassetti and artist contestant Mike Shelbo in this behind the scenes look at Blown Away Season 2.
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Micah Evans blew people’s minds with his fuctional flameworked glass sewing machines that balanced clean traditional craft form and personal sculptural work. Referring to his glass obsession as “a disorder,” Evans was the first flameworker to receive the glass residency at Penland School of Craft, which he served from 2012 to 2015.
He says: “Lately I seem to be describing my work falling into two categories, things I love to make and things I have to make. The first category is easy; I am in love with the material. Like many glass artists I am a slave to the substance, the way it behaves and looks, the way it demands and gets my full attention whenever I work with it. I love to work with the material, therefore whatever I am making brings with it a genuine feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. The second category is harder to define but equally important. The work I can’t help but make are the ideas that won’t let me sleep, the ideas that have me drifting off in conversations to my own world of redesigning and problem solving. It’s the repeated execution of the simple shape that seems to inhabit every page of my sketchbook at the time. It’s exploring ideas over technique and the struggles that come with that process. These two worlds often interact, and I bounce back and forth constantly.”
Born in Cashmere, Washington, in the eastern foothills of the Cascade mountains, Evans moved to Seattle in 1996. He attended The Art Institute of Seattle, focusing on computer animation and illustration before he started flameworking at Stone Way Glass in 1999. After relocating to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, in 2000, the artist opened his first glassblowing studio two blocks from the beach. Five years of workshops and hustle in addition to the struggles of coping with the federal crackdown on pipe making inspired a transition to making more traditional craft objects and personal work.
Upon resettling in Miami, Evans became a studio assistant to William Carlson, chair of the Art Department at the University of Miami. Shortly thereafter he began working with ceramic artist, Bonnie Seeman, combining glass and ceramics. Through working with both of these artists he was introduced to SOFA and Art Basel.
In 2008, Evans relocated to Austin, Texas, where his personal artwork and pipe designs began to mature and develop a symbiotic relationship. His friendship with pipe maker and sculptor SALT pushed both artists in new directions. A 2011 class at Penland with Carmen Lozar inspired a big shift in Evans’ career. He describes his subsequent Penland Residency as “the most wonderfully brutal four years” of his life, where he learned to balance the dynamic of pipes and fine art in more than one way.
In 2016, Evans began designing full time for GRAV Labs, a product design company based in Austin, Texas. Working with glassblower, designer and engineer, Stephan Peirce, Evans has learned the language of industrial and product design. This opportunity presented him with a window into glass manufacturing that changed the way he thought about the material and how it can be used. He regularly visits glass studios and factories in China to research new ways of working and designing in borosilicate glass, with a current focus on engineering and adapting small-scale manufacturing processes observed in Asia to his studio practice. These events inspired a “paradigm shift” in Evans’ understanding about borosilicate glass and what can be done with the material.
Currently building out an expanded studio space at GRAV Labs focused on both R&D and his own work, Evans travels, teaches and lectures at schools and universities around the world about flameworking, design and glass subculture in the United States.
Therman Statom – sculptor, glass artist, and painter – is most notably known as a pioneer of the contemporary glass movement for his life-size glass ladders, chairs, tables, constructed box-like paintings, and small-scale houses; all created through the technique of gluing glass plate together. Sandblasted surfaces become a canvas for spontaneous vibrant colors and line work, which take nuances from Abstract Expressionism and concepts of Minimalism, while simultaneously incorporating a twist by using blown-glass elements and found objects.
Born in Winter Haven, Florida in 1953, Statom spent his adolescence growing up in Washington, D.C. His interest in the arts grew from a fondness of painting and he began to investigate ceramics at RISD. However, after an experimental glassblowing session with Dale Chihuly, he was soon hooked on the spontaneity of hot glass and its limitless possibilities. Statom went on to pursue studies at Pilchuck Glass School during its inaugural year, completing a BFA in 1974 from RISD, and later studied at the Pratt Institute of Art & Design.
Throughout his career, public artworks have been permanently installed at prominent locations including the Los Angeles Public Library, Corning, Inc. Headquarters, the Mayo Clinic, San Jose Ice Center, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Jepson Center for the Arts in the Telfair Museum, Savannah as well as several hospitals across the country.
Statom’s artwork appears in numerous exhibitions annually, including solo and group shows around the nation and internationally. Over the span of his career, he has completed over 30 large, site-specific installations. Most notably in recent years, his 2009 solo exhibition Stories of the New World, at the Orlando Museum of Art, which spanned over 5,000 square feet, has been his largest installation to date. Exploring themes related to Juan Ponce de Leon’s 1513 search for the fabled Fountain of Youth as a point of departure, the installation referenced historic and contemporary themes of hope, discovery, ambition, and destiny. Visitors traversed the gallery space consisting of a mirrored maze, panoramic glass wall mural, a room-size structure built entirely of glass, and video projections. In conjunction with the exhibit, Statom partnered with the educational department of the OMA and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Eatonville to work with over 80 young students to create a work of art titled “Glass House,” which was a large, walk-though structure built from glass boxes designed by the children. The piece was later displayed at the annual summer community festival.
Much of the latter half of Statom’s career has been focused on the importance of educational programming within the arts. He has taken a deep interested in employing workshops as a catalyst for social change and in affect, positively impacting a community. Working directly with the artist himself, adults and children alike share a combined experience of exploring art making via a hands-on experience. Inhibitions and limitations are left by the wayside, and the practice or act of “doing” becomes a journey of self-discovery, creating an opportunity for the participant to go to a new place within themselves.
Says Statom: “I believe art can be understood both conceptually and intuitively. I think there is a need for the general public to come to an understanding that to appreciate art and creativity they must trust his or her self; that extensive education is not a prerequisite for understanding art. Much of what I do is seeded in what is more of an intuitive process; a large portion of my work is exploring these processes within people and their environments.
“The fact is, I believe that creativity is a part of all aspects of what people do; my studio and educational efforts via workshops and the support of outside programming, general educational and cultural institutions, are a reflection of this belief. I feel that art is tool for empowerment and education. It’s also a viable tool to investigate positive change and engage a culture through exploration.”