When curator, author, and frequent lecturer Tina Oldknow retired in September 2015, the glass world was rife with speculation about who the museum might tap to fill her outsized shoes. Today, The Corning Museum announced that it has selected independent curator and writer Susie Silbert to succeed Oldknow as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass. Silbert (who has contributed to GLASS: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly) "will be responsible for the acquisition, exhibition, cataloguing, and research of the Museum’s modern and contemporary collection," which the museum identifies as the period that starts in 1900 and runs to the present day. In her new role, Silbert will oversee the exhibitions and programming of the 26,000-square-foot Contemporary Art + Design Galleries, which opened in March 2015 to great fanfare.
Taking over this high-profile position on April 18, 2016, Silbert will take responsibility for the modern and contemporary glass collections, which encompass nearly 18,000 objects, and which is expected to grow through annual acquisitions and gifts.
“I am looking forward to welcoming Susie to fill this important curatorial position,” said Karol Wight, president and executive director of The Corning Museum of Glass, in a prepared statement. “The opening of the Contemporary Wing has brought in new audiences who have come to appreciate contemporary art in glass. Susie has the perfect background to step into this position since she has artistic training as well as a strong approach to contemporary art, theory, and criticism combined with a deep knowledge of glass from all periods.”
Silbert's resume includes a stint as Mark Peiser's studio curator, contributions of essays to exhibition catalogs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Chrysler Museum. She has also been teaching a course on the history of glass at the Rhode Island School of Design, among other activities. Her recent exhibitions include #F*nked!, exploring the relationship between digital interfaces and handmade objects, at the Kansas City Art Institute; "Concept:Process" at Parsons The New School for Design; and "Material Location" at UrbanGlass (which publishes the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet) in Brooklyn.
Holding a master's degree in decorative arts, design history, and material culture from the Bard Graduate Center, as well as a BFA from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she focused on glass, Silbert brings both an academic and hands-on knowledge of glass to the new position.
“I started my career as a glassworker myself, blowing, casting, and lampworking," Silbert said in a prepared statement, "and I strongly believe that visceral knowledge of the material is a critical component to understanding and interpreting objects made from glass.”
“I am thrilled to be joining The Corning Museum of Glass,” said Silbert. “As a curator and scholar who has invested a significant amount of time thinking through this material and its scientific, artistic, and cultural contributions, there is no better place to continue my work. With its excellent collections, passionate staff, and outstanding facilities for making and viewing glass, CMoG is exactly the kind of dynamic institution I want to be a part of."