Friday, March 27, 2015

Corning Museum of Glass opens new wing

        CORNING:  For many people in this city, the Corning Museum of Glass is more like a pal than a museum. On March 20, CMOG opened its new contemporary glass wing and thousands stopped to see the ribbon cutting and stroll through the expansive elegance that shines under the glass roof of this admired community member.
        The new wing is not only exquisite in design and function but the staff of CMOG was gracious in every way. Admission was free all weekend as were celebratory snacks and beverages and a legion of volunteers was on hand to answer questions and beam with pride over what their community has created.
        The new wing is spacious enough to allow 3 dimensional works to be viewed from all sides. There is room to step back or to lean forward. The light of the day filtered through the glass roof, reflecting on work and people.
        For the grand opening, many of the artists stood with their work answering questions and telling what it meant to them, how they made it, what they are doing now. That’s just one more way that CMOG shows how it is a museum with a personality.  
        In keeping with the idea that this museum is a community member there is a page ( specifically for visitors to post a photo of their favorite image. The images of personal connections shows friends posing with art to attractions, images celebrating color or texture, of course, the many interesting reflections and shadows that a museum full of glass, under glass can offer.
        In keeping with the personal, my favorite was Continuous Mile (2006-2008) by Liza Lou. From a distance, it’s a large, coarse rope. Upon approaching, it’s a glittering landscape of black, glass, seed beads. Looking inward, it is a story of patient hands and many people in a world thousands of miles away.
        The rope is made of millions of tiny, black glass beads sewn onto a continuous mile-long cotton rope, coiled into a circle. In leaning over the glass and walking around and peering and wondering, there seems to be not one bead out of line with the others.
        Lou spent years working with a team of bead workers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa but she did more than create Continuous Mile. She listened to the women talk, in the way that women once talked as they quilted in a cabin. She learned about their lives and taught them about hers.
        She employed them and did so with the intent that the rope would be created in a labor intensive, slow motion, mile long journey, allowing time to reflect and to see changes in the lives involved in the project. She made a work of art that is as much story as it is glass, as much purpose and influence as it is visual.
        The Corning Museum of Glass is open most days of the year. Children and teens are always free and there is a significant discount for people living within Allegany County.
        Visit CMOG to look at thousands of years of history in glass or contemporary visions of glass. See hot glass shows in a magnificent hot glass arena or make your own at The Studio.

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