“Glass is so exciting because the possibilities are endless,” says Program Head Sharyn O’Mara. “Everyday in our studios we work with this amazing material that has such long and rich history, but we bring it into the context of 21st century contemporary art. We consider glass both a craft and a conceptual medium. There are no limits to what we can accomplish with it.”
The glass program combines a contemporary art context with coursework that emphasizes the history, chemistry, and technical aspects of working with glass. In addition to learning glass blowing, glass casting, and kiln work, students are responsible for helping to run the hot and cold studios, and for learning to build the tools they need to articulate their concepts in glass and other media. The curriculum integrates issues and practices in contemporary art, critical theory, and the artist’s practice in the 21st century with a hands-on approach to materiality and matter.
The program also emphasizes the development of a closely-knit artistic community. Having a cohesive group of students is a valued goal, and genuine teamwork is required to make work and run the studios. “The role students play in overseeing our studios is unique,” notes O’Mara. “They have real responsibility here, and the opportunity to see firsthand what a practicing artist’s career is really like. They leave here fully prepared to take on their careers.”
Tyler also prepares students by making sure they are part of the greater glass community. Through membership in a variety of professional associations, faculty members bring visiting artists, workshops, and guest lecturers to campus. Students tour Philadelphia studios and explore the city’s wealth of cultural institutions. Internships, scholarship opportunities for summer study, and a study abroad program round out the curriculum.