Blue Chip Artists, Glassy Thinkers, and Boro Boys: Navigating the Landscape of Contemporary Glass with Susie Silbert

Excited about Asheville's Summer of Glass and want to learn more about the world of contemporary glass? Join us for a special lecture on June 7 with Susie J. Silbert the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at The Corning Museum of Glass.

Silbert will deliver a talk entitled “Blue Chip Artists, Glassy Thinkers, and Boro Boys: Navigating the Landscape of Contemporary Glass.” A case study in Howard Becker’s concept of “art worlds,” contemporary glass today incorporates several distinct constituencies operating in parallel.

"Blue chip artists" with access to skilled craftspeople create elaborate objects that mine the material’s history and the decorative arts to speak to broad audiences.

Working in a mode that recalls Early Modern makers such as Bernard Palissy and Wenzel Jamnitzer, “glassy thinkers,” use their artisanal knowledge of the properties of the material and its composition as fertile territory for works that may, in the end, not even be composed of glass.

Under the radar, but perhaps the most influential in culture at large, are marijuana pipe makers. Harnessing phenomenal technical skills to pop culture aesthetics, these “boro boys” (and women) circumvent traditional patronage systems by using Instagram and other social media platforms to reach an ever-growing collector base.

This lecture surveys this varied landscape in light of the history of Studio Glass and the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass.



Susie J. Silbert was appointed Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at The Corning Museum of Glass in 2016. Prior to joining the museum, she was an independent curator as well as a lecturer on the History of Glass at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Her recent exhibitions include #F*nked!, exploring the relationship between digital interfaces and handmade objects, Concept:Process, at Parsons The New School for Design, Material Location at UrbanGlass, and SPRAWL, an interdisciplinary exhibition interpreting urban development at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Her writing has appeared in exhibition catalogs for the Chrysler Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and UrbanGlass as well as American Art CollectorGLASS QuarterlyMetalsmith, the American Craft Council website and the forthcoming book CAST, on casting in all media, edited by Jen Townshend and Renee Zettle-Stirling.

She holds an MA in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture from the Bard Graduate Center.


Fresnel Table Lamp
Sean Augustine March (American, b. 1982)
United States, New York (Brooklyn), New York, designed in 2015, made in 2017
Optical-grade dichroic borosilicate plate glass, five-watt LED bulb, silicone, cord, electronic
components, wood
H. 27 cm, W. 26 cm, D. 26 cm
Photo: The Corning Museum of Glass

Glass Pour - Black on Black - 1
and Condition - Black on Black - 2
Christine Tarkowski (American, b. 1967)
Left: United States, Chicago, Illinois, Ignite Glass Studio, 2015
Glass blown into a burlap mold and drizzled; welded steel
H. 23 cm, W. 35 cm, D. 25 cm
2017.4.6, gift of Joep van Lieshout
Right: United States, Tacoma, Washington, Museum of Glass, 2015
Glass blown into a wood mold and poured
H. 45 cm, W. 32 cm, D. 32 cm
Photo: The Corning Museum of Glass

space resonates regardless of our presence (Wednesday)
Olafur Eliasson (Danish-Icelandic, b. 1967)
Germany, Berlin, 2017
Glass, stainless steel, brass, paint, LED bulbs, cable, ballast, assembled
H. 312 cm, W. 73 cm
Photo: The Corning Museum of Glass