October is ‘the month’ to discover glass in Madison


October 5, 2022

By Kari Dickinson

It is a big year for glass. In fact, the United Nations has declared 2022 as the “International Year of Glass” to celebrate the essential role that glass has in society. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of UW–Madison’s Glass Lab, the first collegiate glass program in the nation, and considered by many to be the birthplace of American Studio Glass.

Today the UW Glass Lab is led by Associate Professor Helen Lee, an acclaimed artist and master glassblower who was recently featured in the cover article of the Fall 2022 edition of GLASS: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly. (Note: This edition also includes an in-depth interview with UW–Madison alumnus Dale Chihuly.) Under Lee’s leadership the Glass Lab has only grown stronger, and its alumni are making names for themselves from New York to New Zealand.

During this year for glass, October is turning out to be a great month to discover glass in UW–Madison’s Art Department … and beyond. From art exhibits to “nerd nights,” check out all of these opportunities to immerse yourself in the wonders of this important substance, and see how today’s artists are shaping the art of glass for the future.

Oct. 4 – 14
“You could not have dreamed this”: Work from the UW Glass Lab

This new exhibition at the Art Lofts Gallery (111 N. Frances St.) includes work by Lauren Aria, Kagen Dunn, Jonah Figueroa-Daley, and Carolyn Spears. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, Oct. 6, from 6 – 8 pm

Tuesday, Oct. 11
“Kiss My Glass” at the High Noon Saloon

Kiss My Glass In a nod to the “International Year of Glass,” this year’s Wisconsin Science Festival, which runs statewide from Oct. 10 – 16, is putting the focus on glass and the many ways it impacts science, art, and technology. On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the festival is hosting a “Kiss My Glass” event at the High Noon Saloon (701 E. Washington Ave.), described as “one great night of nerdiness!”

The event will feature prizes, fluorescent cocktails, and flash talks from “some of UW–Madison’s biggest brains.” Among them is the Glass Lab’s Helen Lee, who will deliver a talk that is titled, “To Write in Glass.” Other UW–Madison scholars who will share their own “big ideas” include: Kevin Eliceiri (medical physics), Michael Maseda (astronomy), Laura Monahan (zoology), Andreas Velten (biostatistics and medical informatics), and Filiz Yesilkoy (biomedical engineering ).

Doors and bar open at 6:30 pm; free admission. learn more here.

Wednesday, Oct. 12
Visiting Artist Colloquium with Glass Artist Nisha Bansil

As a glass artist, Nisha Bansil works in New York City and the Catskill Region of New York, where she fabricates commissioned glass works as well as her personal projects. She deconstructs and reassembles organic forms to further investigate their underlying structures. Like the tessellated patterns found in Islamic architecture, her work by Ella strives to meld natural phenomena with geometric shapes.

Bansil will speak as part of the Art Department’s Visiting Artist Colloquium Series on Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 5 – 6:15 pm You can attend the event, which is free and open to the public, in person at Elvehjem L160 (800 University Ave.), or online via Zoom at go.wisc.edu/uw-art-talks.

Helen Lee works with glass
Helen Lee, the head of UW’s glass program and an associate professor in the Art Department, practices glassblowing in the UW Glass Lab.

Saturday, Oct. 15
UW Glass Lab public demonstration

Come and hang out in the UW Glass Lab, and discover how glass is blown! Feel free to drop in between 2 – 4:30 pm; no sign-up required.

If you like what you see, you can try it yourself during the Art Department’s Open Studio Day on Saturday, Nov. 5. More information on this “Blow Your Own” glass opportunity coming soon!

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