As stay-at-home orders were issued across the U.S. in mid-March, we at Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly made the decision to scrap our plans for the next issue. It wasn't that the artists we'd been planning to feature had become any less important, but the overpowering sense we would be entering a new era facing down a serious threat not only to our health but our livelihoods. The moment demanded something different, and so we decided to produce a special issue.
It was hard to predict where we'd be three months in the future, but we knew that the Summer 2020 issue would be published in a very different world. The fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be dangerous not only to our health but to our businesses. The glass-art field, where high production costs make economic uncertainty a constant part of the equation, it can be tough going even in a healthy business climate, but with unemployment levels skyrocketing and the world of commerce reeling from lost revenues, we understood it would be a bumpy ride as the global economy cautiously reopened.
Our response was to compile and chronicle 10 stories of triumph over adversity in the lives and careers of glass artists. There is more than one tale of getting through floods. We spoke to a glass studio owner in Murano who survived record-breaking high tides that inundated his workshop in late 2019 only to be swamped soon after by the coronavirus pandemic that hit Venice more than a month before it came to the U.S. We also revisited the catastrophic 1972 Corning Museum of Glass flood to find out how they managed to reopen in just over a month's time. Finally, artist and equipment builder Eddie Bernard shared his story of weathering Katrina's devastation in New Orleans, and how the slow approach of a hurricane had eerie echoes with the building pandemic.
We also heard from survivors of motor vehicle accidents, such as Dale Chihuly on his 1976 car crash in England that almost ended his life and cost him an eye, but which he now understands as a catalyst for new ways of working that unleashed his full artistic vision. Ginny Ruffner's extraordinary saga of overcoming all expectations to survive, to become fully competent, to walk again, and to resume her expansive art practice is truly humbling and inspiring. Oben Abright's motorcycle accident in a remote war zone in Burma proved his commitment to his practice of making art directly from lived experience, and his long recovery taught him that though we recover, we are forever altered.
Ferocious fires claimed the studios of Clifford Rainey and Christina Bothwell, and both were humbled by their loses, but pushed to find answers in the ashes -- not to the cause of fire, but their reasons for being artists and how committed they were to continue their careers.
There are other, broader stories of survival -- from Liza Lou and Pearl Dick -- that provide additional angles on how art and perseverance intersect. Every one of the 10 sagas are as much about our present moment as the past. While revisiting their personal histories, we asked each artist how they view the current crisis, and how their experiences of previous adversity have shaped their perspectives on where we all find ourselves today. Their answers are as enlightening as they are uplifting, because in healing comes opportunities to reimagine our lives, careers, and selves.
It is in that spirit that we proudly offer you "Stories of Survival," coming soon in the Summer 2020 edition of Glass, on newsstands and in subscriber mailboxes on June 1st.
For more information, or to subscribe, visit www.urbanglass.org/glass