On the first episode of the Netflix glassblowing series Blown Away, Deborah Czeresko introduced herself as having “a polarizing personality; I have lovers, and I have haters.” Winner of the competition, the New York based, 58-year-old, queer female artist with 30 years of glass experience was awarded $60,000 and a two-week residency at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG).
Wrote Casey Lesser on Artsy: “In a similar vein to Project Runway or Top Chef, Blown Away gathers glass artists to compete in creating innovative artworks. And while some contestants in the show’s first season crumbled under challenges that required conceptual depth, Czeresko thrived. Asked to make botanicals, she procured a set of oddly poetic potatoes; summoned to imagine a futuristic robotic device, she fashioned the Man-Bun in the Oven, an external womb for men to wear to gestate; and during a food challenge, she managed to make tacos appear über-elegant through a set of Venetian-style dishes. Her pièce de résistance was an installation for the finale: a feminist take on breakfast, including a fecund fried egg and a chain of sausage links.” Meat Me in The Middle, an installation with a sunny-side-up egg at the center represents women taking the art world by storm and a nod towards equity in fine arts.
Czeresko’s work originates from personal experience influenced by the complexities of modern day political and social ideas. It challenges gender stereotypes within the traditional glassblowing landscape. “To me, it’s almost a political act to occupy the hot shop as a fierce female glassblower,” she says in Blown Away.
In her October 2019 two-week residency at CMoG, Czeresko began work on a new conceptual chandelier comprised of more than 50 mirrored glass pieces of automotive-related ephemera such as hubcaps and a muffler. The work uses the metaphorical power of car parts to create a narrative surrounding the gendering of objects.
Czeresko’s art has always invoked a range of approaches and techniques, including performance and collaboration. After completing a BA in psychology from Rutgers University and attending graduate school in studio art at Tulane University, she began working with glass at the New York Experimental Glass Workshop in 1987. For 20 years, Czeresko has made a living creating custom lighting designs and fabricating works for fellow artists such as Robert Gober, Kiki Smith, Lorna Simpson, Mariko Mori and Eric Fischl. The artist has instructed classes at many universities and schools throughout Europe and the US, including UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, New York, where she formally sat on the board; Tyler School of Arts in Philadelphia; College of Creative Studies in Detroit; and LUCA School of Arts in Ghent, Belgium.
Following her appearance on Blown Away, Czeresko developed a vocal and enthusiastic fan base, inspired by this strong, creative woman articulating a message of diversity, equity and belonging. A most unlikely reality TV star, she is stopped regularly on the streets outside of her Lower East Side apartment for autographs, embraces and accolades.
Admittedly thrilled with the attention, the artist has used her new-found celebrity to gain gallery representation. Blown Away inspired interest from New York’s Heller Gallery, which exhibited a new, large installation of her potatoes at SOFA Chicago last fall and her Meat in Chains at the NYC gallery earlier last year. In 2020, both CMoG and the Toledo Museum of Art purchased Czeresko’s work for their collections. In addition to exhibiting new works in three upcoming museum shows and multiple pending residencies, Czeresko will be the honoree for the UrbanGlass 2020 Gala held May 12.