Wednesday November 8, 2023 | by Andrew Page

CONVERSATION: Contributing editor Samantha De Tillio on winning the 2023 Lois Moran Award for Craft Writing

Samantha De Tillio. a contributing editor to Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly and an independent curator, has been recognized for her outstanding article on glass performances of the late 20th and early 21st century, which was published in the Summer 2023 edition of Glass (#171). De Tillio was named a recipient of the 2023 Lois Moran Award for Craft Writing in an announcement that cited the original interviews and archival research she conducted for the article entitled  “Live Glass at the Turn of the Millennium: The Performance Troupe."

De Tillio is one of three writers to receive this prestigious $1,000 award. "Samantha De Tillio charts developing influences in glass and without to highlight glass’s medium specificity in a time of dissolving barriers between artistic disciplines," according to the award announcement, which also recognized writers Kerr Houston and Marie Lo. 

The Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet caught up with De Tillio who recently wrapped up guest curating New Glass Review #43 for The Corning Museum of Glass (which will be bundled with subscriber and newsstand copies of the Winter 2023 edition of Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly).

Glass: What impact has winning the Lois Moran Award had for you, and does it have any special significance now that you are working as an independent curator and critic?
Samantha De Tillio: The American Craft Council is an organization that I've interfaced with many times throughout my career, particularly their archives, and their leadership in the field is inestimable. Receiving the Lois Moran Award is an honor and much appreciated validation of my work, both the particular piece of writing that was nominated and the overall practice from which it emerged. It's especially welcome at this moment in my career when I've transitioned out of more than a decade of institutional work in museums to working independently as a curator and scholar.

The award-winning second installment of De Tillio's series on glass in performance art from the Summer 2023 edition of Glass (#171).

Glass: Why did you undertake the three-part series examining the history (and future) of glass as a medium of performance?
De Tillio: My inquiry into glass as a medium of performance grew organically out of my professional experience, including my time as a curator (and resident glass expert) at the Museum of Arts and Design, my work with UrbanGlass through the Quarterly and also through the larger community there, the various conferences I've attended, and artists with whom I've had the pleasure of working and thinking. My generalist position within the field of craft has been invaluable. While glass has been a specialty it is not my only area of interest or focus and the resulting cross-pollination has strengthened my work. 

Regarding the subject matter, I found myself naturally drawn to the more ephemeral aspects of glass, its aliveness, and its intersection with other modes of practice, while simultaneously being drawn to performance art. My research originated around 2017 (my dive into the history and practice of RISD Glass for the feature in this magazine contributed to a new way of thinking about the material) and the more I followed the thread of my interest the more clear the scholarly dearth became. I felt it was a topic worthy of deeper attention and contextualization and I'm immensely grateful that the Quarterly provided an outlet for my research and embraced a three-article series as its framework.

The upcoming third, and final, installment of De Tillio's series on performance art with glass will appear in the Winter 2023 edition (#173), on newsstands December 1.

Glass: With the final installment coming up in the Winter 2023 edition of Glass, what is next for this inquiry of yours? Do you have any plans to follow-up with an exhibition or book project?
De Tillio: Now that the article series is complete, I plan to pursue the topic further in the form of an exhibition and/or book project. The is so much to be said and so many artists that feel outside the scope of the articles. I'm currently working on a proposal if anyone is interested!

Glass: You recently guest-curated/edited New Glass Review for the Corning Museum of Glass. Did you find performance figured in to many of the submissions to this edition -- and in general, how do you see new work in glass as a result of this project?
De Tillio: Guest curating/editing New Glass Review for the Corning Museum of Glass was a rich experience. Although laborious, I find submission-based juries to be a rewarding way to open myself up to the work of artists with whom I've yet to cross paths. Performative work (of a wide definition) did figure into the submissions for this edition. It's undoubtedly having a moment in the sun, particularly with emerging artists. I really appreciated how the Moran Award jury put it,  "at a time of dissolving borders between disciplines." I hope its prevalence is illuminated through my strategy for organizing the artworks within the publication. Beyond that, working on this project was a way for me to re-expand into the wider world of glass after a time of immense focus. I'm excited to take a breath and step in a new direction, while continuing to develop the performance-based research I've been working on.

Editor's Note: Subscribers to Glass will receive the next issue with De Tillio's third installment on the history of glass in performance art (pictured above), as well as a special bonus issue of New Glass Review #43, which De Tillio guest-curated. Not a subscriber yet? SIgn up today to be sure to receive the Winter 2023 edition (#173), which also includes the definitive guide to glass education programs and suppliers to the field in our 2024 Resource Guide.

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.