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Class of Glass: Students create, display delicate art form

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The collaborative glassblowing class project called "Put a Cork On It" on display in the Fine Arts library. Credit: Yann Schreiber / Lantern reporter

The collaborative glassblowing class project called “Put a Cork On It” on display in the Fine Arts library.
Credit: Yann Schreiber / Lantern reporter

When Gregory Khutoryan applied at Ohio State to study architecture, he did not even know that OSU had glassblowing studios on campus. But now a few years later, he’s now a third-year in glassblowing.

“I was always interested in glass and art. I basically just got addicted to it. It’s an exciting medium to work in,” he said.

“He talks of glass all the time,” said his roommate Breanna Mustard, a third-year in integrative and alternative approaches to health and wellness, adding that his work is practical too. “We have some cups at home. It’s nice to have personalized stuff.”

Khutoryan is one of the nine students in Jonathan Capps’ intermediate glass methods course to take part in an exhibition in the Fine Arts library that opened Saturday and is set to last until Friday.

“OSU is so huge,” Capps, a graduate teaching associate, said. “Many things go unnoticed.

“(The exhibition) is not only a way to have a final in a less traditional format,” he said, but also an opportunity to “display the department.”

While the Fine Arts library has hosted smaller exhibitions, it is the first time that class work is displayed in this fashion, Capps said.

OSU offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in studio arts. Graduate and undergraduate students can chose between seven emphasis areas: art and technology, ceramics, painting and drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture or glass.

Glass studios, together with other certain art facilities, are located in the Sherman Studio Art Center on West Campus.

The class taught by Capps, who is also an MFA candidate in the department, focused on Venetian and Scandinavian techniques.

Carson Wedlake, a sixth-year in glassblowing, has works on display at the Urban Arts Space’s Senior BFA exhibition until Dec. 20. He was also part of Capps’ class and has items on display in the Fine Arts library, focusing on visual appeal, shape and profile.

“Glass is the first synthetic material used by humans but it is not that much (artistically) explored,” Wedlake said.

Zac Weinberg, a graduate student who also teaches glassblowing, said the classes are not about producing glass.

“It’s about learning to be an artist. The world doesn’t need another vase. There is a lot still to be made,” he said, referring to innovative ways the medium could be used.

“Our lives are ruled by mass production,” Wedlake said. “I strive for novelty.”

Neil Messinger, a fourth-year in advertising whose works are part of the exhibition, said he “just fell in love” with glassblowing. In Capps’ course, a two-hour class is held once a week as a demonstration of fundamental techniques, he said. Students then sign up for blow slots to apply their knowledge.

“John (Capps) is usually in the studio and comes from time to time,” Meissinger said of their lab sessions. “But we are mostly on our own.”

“It is an art that people overlook,” Messinger said. “But there are so many uses, so much functionality and aesthetics.”

Messinger said he uses the glass he makes. “I’ll probably end up using these,” he said, pointing at his goblets in the exhibition.

Only one item, which is partly shattered, is not suitable for home use.

“It’s called ‘If the Mind Can Imagine, the Hands Can Make It,’ and is a representation of myself going through the fail and error process,” Messinger said.

There is also a collaborative piece (a large jar filled with smaller chalices), which will be donated to the Fine Arts library, made by the class.

Sarah Falls, head of the Fine Arts library since January, said the exhibition is all about outreach.

“Libraries at OSU are very engaged with their departments,” she said.

The idea for the exhibition came from Capps, who approached the librarian. The items in each vertical stack all relate to the same historical glass blowing art or technique and a book from the library is displayed to explain and give further information.

“It is always better if there can be a connection to the collection (in the library),” Falls said.

James Frownfelter, a second-year in engineering, took a different glass class this semester and is considering taking another in the future.

“I like to take art courses,” he said. “It gives me a more well-rounded mind.

“Lots of people don’t even know that we have glass studios. Most people I talk to don’t know.”

The first classes are demonstrations, but students are soon invited to get in on the action, said Frownfelter, who did not have prior glassblowing experience.

The OSU Glass Club, which meets Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Sherman Studio Art Center, is open to students to learn and build community. Meetings are either lectures or demonstrations, and always include a meal.

“The club is really great,” Frownfelter said. “There are people willing to let you watch them, willing to give and share knowledge. It really is not an elitist community.”

“We just hang out, have a good time,” Messinger said. “It’s one of those family-making things. We are bound together by a common interest.”

Frownfelter said he uses his glasses at home and even made some Christmas gifts and glass pumpkins.

“Things have to break. To get a good piece, you have to be willing to accept broken pieces,” Frownfelter said.

Breaking glass at home is not so bad, but “in the studio it makes my heart hurt,” Wedlake said.

But glass usually breaks during the fabrication process and is rarely dropped.

“Once you make a piece and put so much energy in it,” Frownfelter said. “You don’t want it to break during travel.”

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