by Andrew Page
It literally happened overnight. As a handful of Covid-19 cases turned into an explosion, as the virus went from “over there” to right outside our front doors, official reassurances gave way to urgent stay-at-home orders. As if a switch were flipped, New York City subways packed with people began to run empty, once-bustling restaurants barred their doors, schoolyards fell silent, and buzzing art openings turned into “virtual” slideshows and video presentations viewed in isolation in the cool light of a computer screen.
Amid the waves of anxiety and fear that swept through in the first weeks of the shutdown, we decided to scrap our plans for the upcoming Summer 2020 issue. Knowing the months ahead would test our abilities to weather unprecedented economic and psychological pressures, we set about providing something more immediate and practical: stories of survival.
We spoke with glass artists who had successfully overcome life- and career-threatening disasters in the past, from raging fires to horrific car accidents to once-in-a-lifetime hurricanes and floods. They shared not only the secrets of how they persevered and recovered—tales rich with instructive lessons for our present moment—but also insights into how their past experiences have shaped their perspectives and responses to the current pandemic.
The rapid spread of this still-mysterious virus may have been quelled for now, and—fingers crossed—let’s hope the worst is behind us. How the next chapter unfolds, however, is far from certain. What we can say for sure is that reopening in the coming months will be a test of our ability to act collectively and to adjust to a new reality, one that will reshape business as usual at every level. Plenty of challenges await us, and, as you will learn in the stories in this issue, so do new opportunities for those who will take them.
As we adapt and change our habits and rhythms, art will be an even more important space to connect, reflect, mourn our losses, and heal through shared human experience. Glass artists are the tightrope walkers of the art world. Seeking expression through a fragile material that can be cripplingly expensive to access and is uniquely prone to failure selects for a special resilience among its practitioners and patrons.
For those who have dedicated themselves to making, supporting, and collecting glass art, we offer this issue as a testament to the power of the glass community to pull together in a crisis and to overcome adversity by relying on one of our strongest resources—ourselves.