I hope you were able to be with family and friends, and had a chance to visit the FIA during the holidays. We have an exciting year ahead with our building project underway. Please pardon our dust during your next visit, and rest assured that our upcoming schedule of exhibitions, programs, and events has been planned to provide enjoyable and memorable opportunities for everyone.
The recent gift of two large collections of glass and ceramics and the need for a place to present and store the objects is the reason we are creating a new wing. And with increased emphasis on contemporary craft, we also intend to strenghten appreciation for objects in the gallery by showing how they are made.
Work will begin soon to convert an existing courtyard into a glass-blowing studio and makerspace with a staging area to present live glass-blowing, bronze-casting, and ceramic-making demonstrations. Visitors will experience techniques used in making objects on view in the galleries through live performances aimed at answering the frequently asked question: How did they do that?
As you know, the FIA Art School has a long history of teaching the fine and applied arts, going all the way back to 1928, when the school was founded. The educational value of connecting works in the permanent collection to the studio hands-on experience has always been central to the FIA’s mission. Currently, the Art School offers instruction in three glass-making techniques (slumping, fusing, and mosaic) with plans to offer flame working and glass-blowing in two newly constructed studios. Offering hot glass instruction as another specialty in the Art School will be a distinguishing feature and will surely draw students from around the region. With this new addition, the Institute will continue the tradition of providing the visitor with a visual component that includes not only the museum gallery experience, but also the opportunity to witness the process of art being made.
The FIA’s Education Department is planning programs that connect objects in the new gallery wing with the processes in the studio (both glass and ceramics) to combine Art and STEM concepts through an integrated approach by exploring how the art of making glass, ceramic, and bronze objects is related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These concepts can be illustrated in a single visit, incorporating a gallery visit with an art-making experience, or in a multi-part program that takes place in both the school classroom and the FIA. In addition to hands-on programming, we will also offer lectures, symposia, and demonstrations by visiting artists on the working methods of creating glass, clay, and bronze objects.
The addition of object galleries housing new collections and working studios for artists and art students will be a tremendous enhancement to the FIA experience. I look forward to seeing you at the ribbon cutting this coming fall.