The 2019 Robert M. Minkoff Foundation Academic Symposium at UrbanGlass

October 24th – October 26th, 2019

New York gallery tour | presentations | moderated discussions | breakout sessions | networking opportunities | workshops

For its fourth biennial academic symposium, UrbanGlass is again partnering with the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation to present an international gathering of department heads, professors, and educators to discuss issues and best practices in the lecture hall, shop, and studio. The upcoming symposium, titled "Issues in Glass Pedagogy: Criticism, Critique, and Critical Thinking," will take place from October 24th to 26th, 2019 in New York City, and will examine the importance of constructive critical dialogue in the success of individual artists and the overall field.


Thursday, October 24, 2019; Gallery Tour, Chelsea, Manhattan

4:30 PM: Guided tour of Chelsea galleries with presentations at exhibitions of new works in glass by the Haas Brothers and Ritsue Mishima. We will begin with a guided tour of Pace Gallery's new 8-story flagship location at 540 West 25th Street. Meet out front on 25th Street (bet. 10th and 11th avenues) or inside on the first floor at 4:30 PM.

7 PM: Reception. Heller Gallery. Public discussion about the history of glass education in the U.S. with Lino Tagliapietra, who will be presented with a special symposium award in recognition of his out-sized role in transforming glass education in America. Antipasti and wine by Fornino chef-owner Michael Ayoub.

Friday, October 25, 2019, St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights

8 AM: Doors Open. Buffet Breakfast.

9 AM: Keynote address by New York Times critic Martha Schwendener

10 AM "Blown Away" Panel Discussion with the Netflix reality program's on-air host and judge Katherine Gray, show winner Deborah Czeresko, and series consultant Koen Vanderstukken, as well as show critic Justin Ginsberg.

11 AM Matt Perez on "Diversity and Inclusion: If You Feel You're Doing Enough, You're Not."

12 PM Buffet Lunch

1 PM Interdisciplinary Approaches to Glass. Former Corning Museum of Glass chief scientist Jane Cook leads a discussion with University of Toledo assistant professor Brian Carpenter and Alfred head of glass Angus Powers.

2:30 PM Judith Schaechter, a stained-glass artist and adjunct professor at University of the Arts critiques the crit.

3:30 PM Coffee and Cookies.

4 PM Head of the art history department at Alfred Mary McInnes discusses "One Hundred Years Out: The Relevance of 1920s Glass to Current Practices"

6 PM Networking Reception at the Agnes Varis Art Center at UrbanGlass.

6:30 PM Grace Whiteside performs "Act 3: The Home Shaver" in conjunction with the artist’s interdisciplinary installation "Stacy’s Store" which investigates modern ethics of a Department Store through personal queer theory and gender identity.

Saturday, October 26, UrbanGlass, Brooklyn

9 AM Doors Open. Buffet Breakfast.

9:30 AM Sheridan's Koen Vanderstukken presents "A Window on the World: Critical Thinking about Glass from the Renaissance to the Digital Age"

10:30 AM Gerrit Rietveld's Jens Pfeifer leads a "Glass Virus: Think Tank" workshop session to explore the question of effective critique.

12 PM Buffet Lunch

1 PM University of Sunderland reader in glass Jeffrey Sarmiento, an editor of the Glass Reader (Bloomsbury) leads a discussion and exchange of reading lists

2 PM Artists and educators Anna Riley and Justin Ginsberg lead an Attention Practice lecture and workshop

3 PM Researcher and architect Gabriel Peña presents "Reevaluating Reflection in Architecture and Contemporary Art"

4 PM Break-Out Sessions: Symposium jurors lead discussions on "Me Write Pretty One Day: Writing and the Glass Curriculum" (Helen Lee) and "Time Scarcity and the Fine Arts Degree: How can we create the space to go deep when there is turbulence on the surface?" (Alli Hoag).

5:30 PM Symposium Concludes


The 2019 event will kick off with a gallery tour on the evening of Thursday, October 24th at 6 PM. The exact time and places will be released as galleries announce their fall exhibitions. At each stop, gallery directors will discuss their current exhibitions with the assembled symposium-goers, and the evening will culminate in a networking function where food and drinks will be served. On Friday, October 25th, the symposium will begin bright and early with breakfast at the day's venue, St. Francis College, in Brooklyn Heights. Doors open at 8 AM for bagels and coffee, and the program of presentations and panel discussions will begin at 9 AM. On Saturday, October 26th, the symposium will continue at the studios of UrbanGlass, where the more fluid environment will allow for workshops and breakout sessions. Buffet breakfasts and lunches will be served on both Friday and Saturday.


The 2019 symposium keynote presentation will be delivered by New York Times art critic Martha Schwendener. A Visiting Associate Professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Art, Schwendener's criticism and essays have been published in Artforum, Bookforum, Afterimage, October, Art in America, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, The Brooklyn Rail, Art Papers, New Art Examiner, Paper Monument, Flusser Studies, and other publications. She edited Flusser/Essays (São Paulo: Metaflux, 2017), and is working on a manuscript on Vilém Flusser’s philosophy and its relationship to art.


An in-depth conversation about Blown Away, the Netflix series that Esquire called the "must-watch" reality show of summer, will examine whether television can be a forum for serious art making. The panel will include the 10-episode program's on-air host and judge Katherine Gray, show winner Deborah Czeresko, and series consultant Koen Vanderstukken, as well as show critic Justin Ginsberg

Former Corning Museum of Glass chief scientist Jane Cook (center), now at Penn State, will lead a conversation about inter-departmental explorations in glass art in academia, with (University of Toledo assistant professor Brian Carpenter (L) and Angus Powers (R), head of glass at Alfred. In her introductory remarks, Cook will compare and contrast systems of scientific peer review and art criticism in academia.


Jens Pfeifer, Gerrit Rietveld Academie

"Glass Virus: A Think-Tank Exercise"

The problem with plain critique, says the head of the glass department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam Jens Pfeifer, is that it can be oppressive and a one-way street of information. Pfeifer believes constructive critique is a model for discourse that encourages all parties to learn and bring forward ideas in a discussion. Critiques should be a system of communication that recognizes problems and finds solutions in productive manner. To explore further, Pfeifer will employ a workshop approach to remove the cogniitive distance to the subject, experiencing critical thinking rather than talking about it. Pfeifer has led four Glass Virus events to date, including launching the series at the first UrbanGlass symposium in 2013.


“Attention and Community”

A two-part collaborative presentation on the precedent and implementation of practices of attention. First, co-presenters Anna Riley and Justin Ginsberg will present a lecture component in which they consider the role of attention in the arts as it differs from and builds upon critique practices. They will emphasize the importance of communal attention as a necessary step towards being present with artistic production, connecting deeply with one another, and living healthier lives. The second part of their joint presentation will engage in a brief, but active, collaborative-attention practice with the audience for the duration of 10-15 minutes. Riley and Ginsberg will guide attendees through a poetic meditation on the labors of glassmaking, providing each audience member with a small object at which she, he or they might choose to gaze during the practice.

Jeffrey Sarmiento, The Glass Reader

"A Reader and a Reading List"

One of the most important, and challenging, jobs of an educator in glass is to create a broader understanding of the field of practice as well as the theoretical underpinnings and current literature that supports these ways of thinking. For the past two years, University of Sunderland reader in glass Jeffrey Sarmiento has been working in collaboration on The Glass Reader (Bloomsbury), a forthcoming collection of writing on glass art, craft, and design  focusing on thoughts and discussions around glass which inform 21st-century practice. He will lead a forum for sharing reading lists with fellow educators, presenting pieces both fundamental and current that are used to stimulate our students. What do you think every student working in glass should read? Is there an ideal glass-specific reading list? And how can we bring criticality to the lecture hall, seminar room, and studio? Please bring a copy of your own syllabus to discuss.


Mary Drach McInnes, Alfred University

"One Hundred Years Out: The Relevance of 1920s Glass to Current Practices"

Has the artworld moved beyond The Large Glass? The head of art history at Alfred Mary McInnes cites Marcel Duchamp’s double-paned sculpture constructed a century ago, asking: is it truly contemporary in its provocation and prescience? Can The Large Glass stand up to the insistent allure of our digital technology and screen culture?  And, more radical still, do other modern glass forms that are physically overlooked and critically dismissed join Duchamp’s masterpiece in its presentness?  McInnes contends that a hundred years out, three different types of 1920s glass manufacture—the studio objects of Marcel Duchamp, the workshop prototypes of Josef Albers, and the factory commodities of Guerlain and Chanel—are both current and compelling, and will discuss her discovery process, as well as the importance of glass educators to participate in the critical discourse on the field. 

Gabriel Peña, Concordia University, Quebec

"Reevaluating Reflection in Architecture and Contemporary Art"

Gabriel Peña, an artist, architect, and lecturer, currently pursuing a PhD in Humanities at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture, at Concordia University is researching glass properties such as reflection and its interplay with transparency as a medium to construct atmospheres that modify the perception of the built environment. Reflection, allows us to become aware of our surroundings in different ways, either by connecting us in unexpected forms, formulating not only visual phenomena but new atmospheres generated in the interplay of transparency and reflection. Glass still holds the potentiality of emergent “experiences” that could transform the built environment as physical, multi-sensory manifestations. His talk will explore how glass, if treated accordingly to its bio-constructivist origins, not only as a membrane that allow us to communicate and relate to our environments, can transform our current experience of cities into bodily encounters that reconnect us to our status as space producers instead that of passive users.

Judith Schaechter, U Arts, PAFA

"Critiquing the Crit"

Judith Schaechter, a stained-glass artist living and working in Philadelphia, is an adjunct professor at University of the Arts and instructor at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She's observed that critique has changed little over time despite some lip service to the
contrary. However, the world has changed a lot and with it, the student’s internalizing of
critique. It is with this long term perspective, she will discuss what what has changed and what hasn’t. Does the model of critique still work? Did it ever? Central to this is the observation that critique needs to be rethought. It’s time to subject this sacred cow to some of its own purported philosophy.

Matt Perez

"Diversity and Inclusion: If You Feel You're Doing Enough, You're Not"

Matt Perez (He/Him), an artist, educator, and a gay latinx cisgendered man, attended Illinois State University (BFA) and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA). Presented in the spirit of inclusion, his presentation will establish a baseline for diversity in America and compare it to the populations of individual academic institutions as well as neighboring regional areas. Perez hopes to unpack possible “why” factors that contribute to a lack of diversity within the glass silo and the creative ecosystem as a whole. His presentation will also examine the three exhibitions of New Glass presented at The Corning Museum of Glass in 1959, 1979, and 2019, looking at their gender and diversity make up, and ask the questions "How can we de­token the token? And what language do we use to better bring othered into exclusive spaces?"

"A Window on the World: Critical Thinking about Glass from the Renaissance to the Digital Age"

Sheridan faculty and glass studio head Koen Vanderstukken's book GLASS Virtual, Real (2016) describes the results of his social, historical, and scientific research to explain why glass suddenly gained traction as a contemporary art medium in the mid-20th century. His book tracks societal shifts that might explain this sudden interest in a new material for art in search of insights into the current use of glass within the arts. Vanderstukken will discuss new research that flips his inquiry, to look at how contemporary artists used glass to influence society, culture, and even politics. His query is unltimately about how critical thinking about glass led to shifts in culture and society, and what conclusions may be drawn regarding the current and future use of glass as an art material.



The full program of the conference was determined by a jury that included (L to R) artist and University of the Arts glass program head Daniel Clayman; artist and head of the glass program at Bowling Green State University Alli Hoag; artist and head of the glass program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Helen Lee; artist and executive director of UrbanGlass, Devin Mathis; and Glass magazine editor and symposium organizer Andrew Page.

COST: Registration for the 2019 event is $175, with a special student rate of $125 (valid I.D. required). Attendees are responsible for their own lodgings, and a special negotiated hotel room price will be provided to those looking for accommodations once registration is completed.


Event Images
Event Schedule
October 24th – October 26th, 2019
UrbanGlass Studio
647 Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11217