Flameworkers from around the U.S. and the world have coalesced through a Facebook group to discuss a collaborative initiative to hand-make borosilicate splitters that would, in theory, allow multiple Covid-19 patients to share a single ventilator to address the potentially catastrophic shortage of such medical equipment as the pandemic overwhelms hospitals around the world. The idea was the brainchild of Joshua McMenamin, a Boulder, Colorado, flameworker, who came across a 2006 article in the Academic Emergency Medicine journal about the possibility of sharing a single ventilator with up to four patients in a dire emergency. The technique was used successfully during the Las Vegas mass shootings when one hospital was overwhelmed with patients. McMenamin, who the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet was unable to reach for comment, was featured in a local television news program, and quickly gained support of the community of glassblowers through Facebook. On the COVMD Glass Medical Devices Facebook group, flameworkers from around the globe have been crowdsourcing diagrams and schematics, as well as sharing the results of their outreach to hospitals. The effort has been fueled by the enthusiasm of volunteers to turn their home studios into emergency manufacturing sites.
The Glass Art Society, which has already been helping the glass community to locate emergency relief resources through its website, has launched a targeted fund to help members of this international artist organization to weather the economic challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. GAS executive director Brandi Clark told the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet that the fund is not actually brand-new, but the organization is repurposing an existing fund to respond to the needs of its membership. "The original fund was created several years ago as a way to help those in our glass community that have an experience -- whether medical, accidental, or natural disaster -- that impacts their ability to make a living and continue their practice," explained Clark in an email exchange. "The distribution of the funds had never been fully fleshed out, but the COVID-19 pandemic and its reach motivated us to quickly put together a way of getting those funds to those that are feeling its impact the most."
In 1985, glassblower Josh Simpson began collecting money during craft shows, together with Carol Sedestrom Ross (president of a craft fair), in an effort to support fellow artists who found themselves in desperate financial circumstances because of an emergency. This early informal effort grew into the nonprofit organization known as CERF+, which now has a full-time staff based in Montpelier, Vermont, and distributes grants and loans to artists, produces informative brochures about planning for disasters, and also advocates for the craft field in Washington, D.C. The COVID-19 pandemic, which is rapidly shaping up as a global health and economic emergency, is likely to impact artists and arts nonprofits around the world. CERF+ has quickly set up the "CERF+ COVID-19 Response Fund," a grant program for which they are collecting donations.
On Monday, March 16, the Glass Art Society decided to refocus its efforts from the cancellation of its 2020 conference to connecting glass artists with resources in the face of the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. "As the situation in the States took a dramatic turn, Brandi [Clark, the executive director] led us to the decision to pivot," Lauren Bayer, communications and social media manager of the artist organization, told the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet. By Tuesday, a new "Emergency Relief" page on the GAS website resources page went live, offering more than 60 links to online videos, educational resources, and relief opportunities.
The Corning Museum of Glass officially cancelled all its classes, events, and programs when it temporarily closed its doors on Monday, May 16th, but the world's largest museum of glass art is doing its part to help the glass community stay connected and productive during an unprecedented time when the nation is promoting social distancing as the best hope to control the spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus.
On the evening of March 12, 2020, the Glass Art Society issued the somber announcement the board and staff of the artist organization had been hoping against hope they wouldn't have to make. The 2020 conference set to take place May 20 through 23rd in Småland, Sweden, will not be taking place due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus.
Citing consultations with health officials, Salem Community College has officially cancelled the 2020 International Flameworking Conference (IFC), which had been scheduled to run from March 20th through 22nd. The announcement explains the college is "acting to protect the safety and welfare of the glass community and other members of the public."
As concern mounts about the spread of Covid-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, glass studios in the U.S. are being proactive and hope to help stop the spread as the disease is just beginning to be detected. While the number of confirmed cases remain far lower than in global hot spots in China, Iran, and Italy, the lack of available testing in the U.S. has many worried that the spread of the virus has not been adequately tracked. With the Seattle and New York City regions emerging as locations where dozens of cases have been confirmed, glass studios there are taking steps to do their part in limiting the spread. In addition to UrbanGlass in New York, The Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet reached out to the glass studios at Corning (Corning, New York), Espace VERRE (Montreal), Pittsburgh Glass Center (Pittsburgh), Pilchuck (Stanwood and Seattle, Washington), and Public Glass (San Francisco, California) to ask about what steps were being taken in the face of a potential outbreak of Covid-19, and whether they were still planning to attend the Glass Art Society conference in Sweden in May.
With officials ending Venice's annual Carnival celebration two days early, and a dozen towns in the regions of Lombardy and Veneto currently under quarantine due to multiple cases of confirmed coronavirus (Covid-19), it seems prudent that the organizers of the major exhibition "Venice and American Studio Glass" would push the opening forward a month. Originally set to debut on March 23, 2020, at Le Stanze del Vetro at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, the new opening date is April 26. Also extended is the end-date, as the exhibition will now run through August 2, 2020.
The Spring 2020 edition of Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly (#158) is hitting newsstands and subscriber mailboxes. On the cover is a stained-glass light box by Judith Schaechter titled Murdered Animal (2019), at its centerpiece a mortally wounded feline creature rendered in a stack of stained glass images. The multiple layers allow a level of detail in the ripple of sinewy muscles or vertebral lumps on this animal body curled into a fetal position and cocooned in a womb-like refuge. The animal sports multiple wounds, defined by scarlet drops of blood that pick up the red-hues of the surrounding tapestry-like quasi-decorative field that also resembles a network of vein-like stems, perhaps umbilical connections between the victim and the fertility of the natural world. The richness of this work, and its central theme of nature under assault, make it as timely as it is visually compelling.
Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.