After a two-year delay, Museum of Glass (MOG), Travel Tacoma, and several other community arts and culture organizations will welcome the Glass Art Society (GAS) for their annual international conference May 18-21. Conference events will span downtown Tacoma and include a special new community event, the first annual TAG Festival: Together… in Art and Glass which will take place on May 22.
Each year GAS brings together the international community of glass artists, collectors, and enthusiasts for a multi-day conference featuring glass from every discipline. Museum of Glass and Travel Tacoma partnered to bring this year’s conference to Tacoma. Originally scheduled for 2020 and delayed due to COVID-19, the 2022 event holds much significance.
“It was already noteworthy for Tacoma to host the GAS Conference, but for it to be the first inperson gathering of the community in two years, that makes it even more special,” said Debbie Lenk, Executive Director, Museum of Glass. “Glass is part of the soul of this city. Hosting the conference as Museum of Glass celebrates 20 years and the Glass Art Society celebrates its 50th marks a great moment for the Pacific Northwest glass community.”
This year marks the first time Tacoma, an international center for glass, will host the GAS conference. It provides a unique opportunity for the city to be formally recognized for its influence and place in the glass community. The event will also bring tourism and community activities to downtown. Conference events will take place at MOG, Tacoma Art Museum, Area 253 Glassblowing, Hilltop Artists, LeMay: America’s Car Museum, and the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.
“Tacoma celebrates glass artists and all artists as they come together in the spirit of community and expression,” said Dean Burke, President and CEO, Travel Tacoma. “This partnership and collaboration is a visionary one, ready to welcome the biggest names in the industry to our city.” The TAG arts festival, co-led by Travel Tacoma, MOG, and TAM, for which details will be announced shortly, will span downtown and feature local artists, food venders, performers, and more. GAS tickets are available both for the entire duration of the conference and by the day. The full event schedule can be found here.
In coordination with the exhibition What Are You Looking At? An Eccentric Chorus of Artists Working in Glass, Museum of Glass is hosting virtual conversations on Thursdays with artists included in the exhibition. Interviews will examine the career trajectory of these artists and the role their residencies at Museum of Glass and Pilchuck Glass School played in their artistic development. Each artist will discuss the pieces featured in the exhibition and how they arrived at the ideas for the work.
Moderated by a MOG educator, talks will last approximately 45 minutes.
Thursdays from October 21, 2021 through November 12pm on Facebook live
Pearl Dick’s Visiting Artist Residency was initially scheduled for 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. With this being her first residency at Museum of Glass, which began on July 14, 2021, both parties were anxious to join forces. During Dick’s week-long residency, she worked on pieces from her Sculpted Heads series. Her previous work from this series is currently on display in Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition, available to view through summer 2021. Luckily before Dick had left the Pacific Northwest to head back home to Chicago, we had some time to reflect on her first residency at Museum of Glass.
How about a few fun questions to start? Did you do any exploring while here in Tacoma, WA? If so, what was your favorite spot?
Pearl Dick: I was really excited to visit Hilltop Artists while I was in town. I have been aware of and working with folks from that program for a while now, so was great to get to see it all in person!
What is the first thing you have planned to do when traveling back to Chicago, IL?
Pearl Dick: We had a community bike ride the day after I got back to Chicago, visiting historical sites on the South side of Chicago as part of an initiative we are involved with acknowledging and commemorating the Chicago Race Riots of 1919. Over 400 people showed up for the ride. Firebird presented prototypes of the memorial glass markers we are creating to be installed in city sidewalks where people were killed during this atrocity.
Can you tell us more about the organizations you work with back in Chicago? Specifically, Project FIRE and Firebird Community Arts?
Pearl Dick: I am the Artistic Director of Firebird Community Arts, a non-profit organization based on the West side of Chicago. We work to connect people through the healing aspects of art-making and community-building. We are a woman-led, all-inclusive studio providing access to glassblowing and ceramics. Project FIRE is our flagship program. F.I.R.E. stands for Fearless Initiative for Recovery and Empowerment. This program is designed to promote healing through glass and ceramics for young people in Chicago who have been injured by gun violence.
Now let’s talk about your residency! This was your first Visiting Artist Residency here at Museum of Glass. What did you enjoy most about working in the MOG Hot Shop, and how did the atmosphere shape your work?
Pearl Dick: Oh man! I can’t say enough about this MOG Hot Shop team!! They are truly remarkable artists, technicians, and all-around wonderful humans. I was able to make pieces that had eluded me with their expert help. The whole MOG crew, in fact, was on point. This was a pinnacle of my artistic journey so far and really refreshed my love of making my own art since so much of my energy over the last decade has been devoted to my community work. This residency was truly a gift and I feel even more inspired to bring that energy home.
Your work is currently featured within Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition, and you took some time to discuss these pieces on Transparent Conversations last week. Could you tell us about the art you created during this residency and how it relates to other pieces within this body of work?
Pearl Dick: It was an honor to be included in this show and amazing to get to see it beautifully displayed at MOG–and to get to create my work in the residency with Sarah Gilbert in the hot shop, who was also a part of this exhibition was extra special for me. All of the work we made during this residency spoke to the themes of connection and relationship, which is what my work in Transparency was about. We added some elements of color and connection and scale that elevated this message.
Lastly, can you let everyone know where they can see your art or plan to see the work you completed during this Visiting Artist Residency?
Pearl Dick: One of my favorite pieces created during this residency will stay with you all at the museum, which is also a huge honor to have my work created with your team become a part of the permanent collection. One of the pieces has a technical anomaly so I get to keep that one, which I am not sad about. I have yet to see the other finished pieces so I will wait to get them back to Chicago and decide where they go from there, but I imagine I will probably live with them for a minute and replay the awesome experience I had creating these before I send them out into the world.
About The Artist: Artist and educator, Pearl Dick specializes in glass and art making as a means for expression and healing. Drawing from her life and observations, Dick’s work speaks to our human connection. From the relationships that span a lifetime to the casual interactions that last only an instant, no connection is insignificant. Her work, whether in glass or paint, is meant to spark a memory, feeling, or emotion within the viewer that is deeply personal—in those moments, her work becomes universal.
Just over a month after beginning a phased reopening, Tacoma’s Museum District, made up of the Washington State History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, LeMay – America’s Car Museum, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Foss Waterway Seaport, and Museum of Glass, is supporting the resurgence of community connection. A host of new events, exhibitions, and activities are on the horizon as people return to the downtown area. Amid the activity, all the museums continue to follow COVID-19 operating protocols to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.
We’ve seen such happiness as guests have returned to the museum. It is a great feeling to provide a safe space for our community to engage with art again.
Foss Waterway Seaport is preparing to reopen on June 3. For their reopening weekend, the Seaport will host a night paddle event, surplus sale, and Tacoma Ocean Fest on June 6. This year’s event will be a hybrid of in-person and livestreamed happenings.
COVID-19 safety measures are in place across the district, including social distancing, required face coverings, and occupancy limits connected to Pierce County’s current status in Phase 2 of Healthy Washington – A Roadmap to Recovery. Some amenities at the museums remain closed per state and department of health protocols. Days and hours of operation for each museum follow.
Washington State History Museum Open: Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm; and every Third Thursday, 10am–8pm with free admission from 3–8pm. WashingtonHistory.org
Foss Waterway Seaport Re-opens: Thursday, June 3, 2021 Thursday–Sunday, 1am–4pm, and every Third Thursday 10am–4pm with free admission from 4–8pm. FossWaterwaySeaport.org
About The Tacoma Museum District The Tacoma Museum District is one of the jewels of the South Sound! Visit six premier museums within walking distance to each other (or catch the convenient and free Link light rail). Each museum shares a different aspect of Pacific Northwest arts and culture and they work together to share the best of Tacoma as a destination.
Where are the museums? Along Pacific Avenue you’ll find the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, the Tacoma Art Museum, and just past Historic Union station, the Washington State History Museum. From the History Museum, take the pedestrian Bridge of Glass right to the Museum of Glass. Stroll along Thea Foss Waterway to reach the Foss Waterway Seaport. Catch the Link on Pacific Ave for a quick ride over toward America’s Car Museum. See each museum’s website for address and location details.
Members of Museum of Glass can visit the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA, to explore their newest exhibition, Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest, for free! All members need to do is present their current Museum of Glass membership card at admissions, located in the Lightcatcher building or Old City Hall. This opportunity is available through October 10, 2021. Along with free admission, MOG members can receive 10% off purchases at the Museum Store.
Fluid Formations, which draws from MOG’s permanent collection, celebrates the innovation and striking range of processes and ideas that could only come from decades of a shared passion for the material of glass. From the establishment of Pilchuck Glass School in 1971 to today, the Northwest’s glass community has expanded significantly and has created a rich legacy unique to our region. Fluid Formations features the art of fifty-seven contemporary artists working in glass from the Pacific Northwest, the epicenter of glass.
The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA, offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, and activities about art, nature, and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is in the heart of Bellingham’s downtown Arts District. The Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., are open at 50% capacity due to Covid-19 safety restrictions Thursdays–Sundays, 12–5pm. For more information about the Museum’s exhibitions and admission visit, whatcommuseum.org.