Wednesday May 24, 2023 | by Kinshasa Peterson

The 2023 Glass Art Society conference (coming up soon!) celebrates Detroit's creative community

The Glass Art Society's 2023 conference in Detroit, scheduled for the rapidly approaching dates of June 7th through 10th, will present a full slate of lectures, demonstrations, exhibitions, and student meetups, all of which will kick off with a fundraiser, Firestarter, on the evening of Tuesday, June 6th. Now in its 52nd year, the annual GAS conference is one of the main sources of revenue for this artist organization, and it brings together artists, collectors, and suppliers for opportunities to learn from one another; exchange wares and knowledge; and generally revel in a shared passion for the medium whether sculptors, designers, pipemakers, or engravers. As has become customary, the conference is packed wall-to-wall with events at multiple venues, and this iteration sees venues throughout the Motor City, including at the Russell Industrial Center, a former industrial building that has been converted into studio rentals and has become known as the biggest arts hub in the Midwest. In addition to the fundraising Firestarter event, the GAS Conference will feature a slate of collector-focused activities including day trips to historic sites in Detroit and the surrounding region in the days before the conference with curator-led experiences at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Henry Ford Museum, and demonstrations at local glass studios, among other venues. 

“GAS Detroit is shaping up to be an electrifying tribute to the power of collaboration, creativity and design,” says Jennifer Hand,  GAS conference and events manager (and occasional contributor to Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly). “We have presenters traveling from all over the globe to highlight the latest advances in glass art and technology, including the sweet treat of Maple Glass Printing's hot glass 3-D printer coming all the way from Australia. Panel discussions will provide insight on everything from community building to impostor syndrome, as well as practical advice on legal considerations, sustainability measures and proposal writing. Partnering with Detroit's creative community means crossover events with the Michigan Glass Project, Design Core Detroit, Habatat Galleries, the College for Creative Studies and the Detroit Institute of Arts - a truly once-in-a-lifetime convergence sure to strengthen and inspire our worldwide glass family.” 

One of the most-anticipated event at any GAS conference is the award ceremonies, and this year’s Lifetime Membership Award will be presented to Eddie Bernard, founder of Wet Dog Glass. First issued in 1977, the Lifetime Membership Award recognizes achievements in service of the organization. Bernard is an artist and entrepreneur who leads a manufacturing firm that specializes in art-glass processing equipment. He has authored practice-based articles for GAS News and delivered workshops and lectures nationally and internationally. Bernard and his wife, Angela, have given much back to the community; when identified as the recipient of the 2023 Lifetime Achievement award, the couple decided to endow an annual scholarship for emerging artists to attend the GAS Conference. The Eddie & Angela Bernard Scholarship will be issued annually to support emerging artists who may need financial assistance to come to the GAS Conference. The 2023 Impact Award, in its second year, will be given to the Glass Society of Ireland, which has increased the exposure of Irish glass to an international audience.

Former GAS board member Kim Harty, who is also the head of the glass program at Detroit's Center for Creative Studies, was a key organizer of the event who both helped assemble the site committee and worked as a facilitator/connector to Detroit-area artists and organizations. She told the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet that there is so much planned, it's almost impossible to describe, but instead needs to be experienced in person to fully appreciate. 

"You haven't seen flameworking until you've seen 100 artists work over the course of 2 days to create incredibly complex pipes, all to support the art curriculum in Detroit Public Schools," Harty said in an email exchange. "Tiff Massey, who was recently featured in the summer issue of American Craft about Detroit, will offer a one-of-a-kind opening night lecture and demo in collaboration with Hoseok Yoon. The Maple Glass 3D Printer will be on site at CCS and will be in operation at Drinks x Design: Glass and Design on June 8th from 5-8, and will be used for Jeff Sarmiento's demonstration in the CCS hot shop on Saturday June 10th. 

At Drinks x Design, Chris Schanck -- who's otherworldly furniture exhibition Off World was just shown at the Museum of Art and Design -- will be collaborating with the Corning team in the mobile hot shop at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and international Detroit-based design collective Form & Seek will collaborate with Ryan Thompson in the CCS hot shop.There are so many ways this conference highlights community, collaboration, and the crossover between different disciplines, I'm excited for the glass community to experience it."

Other opportunities to support GAS include its annual Goblet Grab, a Silent Auction, and a Closing Night Party that will wrap up conference proceedings. Plans for next year’s GAS Conference are already underway! To keep up with all the latest information on the 2023 conference, visit for more information.

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.