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September 20, 2016

Molten teamwork

CIA hosts college art glass team for day of play

Molten teamwork

CIA student Danielle Respeto '20 competes in the Glass Hole event of the 2016 Glass Games. Photo by Robert Muller/CIA.

By Clint O’Connor

Art and heated competition combined splendidly Saturday during Glass Games 2016, a day of friendly fire among students from 13 collegiate art glass programs.

A warning cry -- “Hot glass coming through! Hot glass!” – could be heard repeatedly down the halls as about 120 students met for 12 hours of games and learning.

“This day is about team-building, communication and networking,” said Marc Petrovic ’91, associate professor and chair of CIA’s Glass Department. “It’s a chance to get to know faculty from other schools, and a great opportunity for students to get out of their bubble and meet other students.”

In conjunction with the Glass Art Society, CIA hosted the event that was capped by an evening awards ceremony at the SPARK! reception. Jeff Mack and Eric Meek of the Corning Museum of Glass did demonstrations.

A highlight for many was the presence of legendary glass artist and educator Henry Halem, who delivered a lecture on the evolution of glass art. The affable Halem launched the glass program at Kent State University in 1969 and co-founded the Glass Art Society in 1971.

“In the beginning there were only 10 or 11 of us,” he said before his speech. “Now to look out and see this huge sea of young people in the field that my buddies and I more or less started in this country, it’s just so thrilling.” Halem received a standing ovation from the audience in the Peter B. Lewis Theater and stuck around to watch the afternoon game sessions.

CIA’s fourth floor was teeming with teams clad in colorful T-shirts carrying glass from hot ovens to the game areas amid shrieks, cheers and laughter.

“This is incredible,” said Josh Merritt, a junior from Ohio State University. “I’ve blown glass before with maybe 20 people, but this is over 100 people. You’ve got people running around with hot glass. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Schools included CIA, Bowling Green, Kent State, Ohio State, Alfred University (in New York), Ball State (Indiana), the College for Creative Studies (Michigan), Salisbury University (Maryland), the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, and four schools that joined forces: the Columbus College of Art and Design paired with Centre College (Kentucky), and Anoka-Ramsey Community College (Minnesota) paired with Ohio’s Hocking College.

Events ranged from Tubular (stretching a glass straw as far as possible down a long hallway) and Glass Hole (a variation on Cornhole in which competitors chuck hot, freshly made glass pucks), to Elevated Gaffer (teammates lifting their gaffer off the ground while he or she is blowing glass) and Animal (creating quirky animals with glass nuggets).

“This is my second Glass [Games] and it’s even more crazy than last year,” said Tess Healy, a senior at Bowling Green.

Why the interest in glass?

“I took it as a studio and fell in love with it and got addicted,” she said. “Nothing is like working with glass. And it’s such a team effort.”

Katie Ferguson, a CIA junior majoring in glass, narrowed down what she likes about glass to one word: “Everything!”

“The material is so great,” she added. “You can do so many different things with it.”

Animal-making students battled a guitar-driven clock -- the running time of either Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” or Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” -- while creating a makeshift menagerie: A rather horizontal giraffe who “hadn’t grown into his neck yet,” a gender-neutral sheep, a one-eyed “squatty” squirrel named Susan, and a reptile dubbed “Turtleluts Funktis,” aka Funk Turtle.

“The games we create are mostly ridiculous and good fun, but still the students are learning about glass and how to work in teams,” said Karen Donnellan, who teaches sculpture and glass at Alfred.

Speaking of Alfred, the school racked up the most points and “blew everybody out of the water,” said Petrovic, to take first place in the Glass Games. Ohio State placed second. Salisbury was third. (Some ties were broken using the decidedly non-glass method of rock-paper-scissors.) Each school had brought a glass creation, ranging from a “Minions” dude to a motorcycle to a flaming sword, which served as fitting trophies.

“I love this. I love every second of it,” said Sarah Wilkins, a freshman glass blowing major from Salisbury. “Every person I’ve met, we’re like best friends now. It’s definitely a great community to be involved in.”

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We are happy to welcome @GM reps to campus today to sit in on student presentations for our General Motors sponsore https://t.co/ZC1M6etRUo

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