This fall UrbanGlass launched Studio Futures: The UrbanGlass Scholarship Fund, a year-long scholarship opportunity for young people based in NYC. With the aim of fostering diverse voices in the field of glass art, the fund supports full scholarships for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color) identifying students ages 15-24 who want to learn glassmaking processes and build skills to use in their art practice moving forward. This year's Studio Futures cohort was selected by a jury of artists and educators from the UrbanGlass community, including artist Layo Bright, artist and fabricator Michiko Sakano, and public school teacher Michael Fisher. The jurors reviewed over 30 applications to form the final cohort of four artists, each representing diverse perspectives and goals: Taylor Whigham, El Quesada, Kyra Lai and Carla Perez.
The cohort gathered for the first time in September to meet each other and tour the UrbanGlass studios. While some of the artists already had some experience with glass through classes, everyone was excited to go beyond a single studio area and broaden their understanding of the many possibilities that the material has to offer. After that introduction, the scholars began to envision the path they would like to pursue on their journey as Studio Futures scholars and make selections for their fall classes. These classes will be the first of four free classes they will take through August 2023, which are all off to a great start! Taylor and El are studying glassblowing and neon, respectively, using this opportunity to delve deeper into techniques they had already sparked with. On the other hand, Kyra and Carla chose a survey course covering flameworking, kilnforming, coldworking and glassblowing to play with a wide range of processes before narrowing their focus to a specific studio.
In addition to technical and conceptual training through classes, the cohort will also have free access to the studio, equipment and materials for the full duration of the scholarship program to develop their skills and ideas independently. The scholars have already begun to build and improve their skills, explore new ideas in their work, and forge connections with peers, instructors, and the wider UrbanGlass community. We can't wait to see where they go from here!
Meet the 2022-23 Studio Futures Scholars!
Taylor Whigham (they/them), 21
Fall Workshop: Advanced Beginner Glassblowing with Shuhei Fujii & Emily Doerflein
Taylor is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Industrial Design at Pratt Institute. After taking a glassblowing course this past summer, they recognized how vital glass would be to their growth as an artist and designer. “I love that glass working is so unlike anything else” they said. “It flexes physical and mental muscles that no other medium ever has for me.”
El Quesada (they/them), 24
Fall Workshop: Intermediate Neon: In Tube we Trust! with James Akers
El connected with neon bending instantly, even finding ways to transform scrap glass from around the studio to make the most of the material. They also take inspiration from the openness and warmth of the community that is fostered around glass. “Not only do I see this scholarship lifting me up technically in the craft," they said, "but simply being in proximity with queer artists…inspire[s] me to continue expressing queer experiences in my own art.”
Kyra Lai (she/her), 16
Fall Workshop: Glass Survey with Gayle Forman
Kyra's connection with UrbanGlass began as part of a free two-week summer intensive for high school students that explored kiln-based imagery techniques and stained glass. A visual arts major at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, she has “always felt a devotion to the arts" since childhood. "My passion for it only keeps growing," she said, adding, "This opportunity will help me burst the bubble surrounding me that is fear and timidity.”
Carla Perez (she/her), 24
Fall Workshop: Glass Survey with Gayle Forman
Carla sees the potential glass has not only for propelling her own art practice, but in the positive impact it can have on the creative community in her native Dominican Republic. “[Glass’] ability to become soft and pliable in extreme heat and its simultaneous strength and fragility in its cooled state, seem to me, a beautiful metaphor for diasporic communities." she said. "...Besides learning to work with glass for my own creative fulfillment … It is a skill I hope to possess and share in the future.”
Thank you to our jury and everyone who applied, and congratulations to our first ever cohort of Studio Futures scholars! Stay tuned for updates on what the cohort is up to, and check the application page to learn more about this opportunity. Applications for the 2023-24 Studio Futures scholarship will open next spring.
Studio Futures: The UrbanGlass Scholarship Fund is generously supported by Fred and Susan Sanders.