MOG Executive Director Discusses The Effects of COVID-19 on Arts and Humanities Organizations with U.S. House Committee

Museum of Glass was honored to be invited to share our experiences dealing with the impact of COVID-19 with the U.S. House Committee of Appropriations on March 25, 2021. MOG Executive Director, Debbie Lenk, was part of a panel discussion regarding “The Effects of COVID-19 on Arts and Humanities Organizations.

We never imagined a world where Museum of Glass would operate for only four months in 2020. It was the first time in 20 years our Hot Shop and programming went idle. During uncertain and dark times, people look to art for healing and inspiration. It was, and remains, a heavy burden for MOG to not be able to serve our community in the same manner we have for two decades.

Lenk voiced how in-person events and visiting artists, which came to a quick halt this past year, play a massive role in the visitors’ experience at the Cone. She added that it is a huge priority this spring to bring back these programs, including Hot Shop Heroes, a glassmaking program for soldiers and veterans with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and other depressive disorders.

Our communities need art more than ever. Throughout the past 12 months we have focused squarely on providing what programs we can in order to give people hope, and we have worked to ensure our staff have jobs when MOG can reopen.

Debbie Lenk, Executive Director

You can watch the full panel discussion at: The Effects of COVID-19 on Arts and Humanities Organizations

A transcript is also available at: Ms. Deborah Lenk Testimony

Mortal Combat

By Derek Klein, Audio/Visual Producer 

On Tuesday, September 29, Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire instructor, Patricia Davidson, and program participant, Army Sergeant First Class (SFC) Peter Bazo from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), joined forces to install the new exhibition, Healing in Flames, which is currently on display in the Grand Hall at Museum of Glass. All of the pieces were designed and crafted by soldiers participating in the Hot Shop Heroes program.

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One of the class’ collaborative pieces included in the exhibition, entitled Mortal Combat, features a glass scorpion and camel spider preparing to fight in the desert sand. The piece was inspired by a game often played by deployed soldiers as a way to pass time. The game involves placing a scorpion and a camel spider in a pit—dug by soldiers—where they would engage in a fight to the death.

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While installing Mortal Combat, SFC Bazo realized something was not quite right with the desert sand. He explained that there is a common misconception about the cleanliness of the desert. Contrary to popular belief, the desert is not a clean place, explained SFC Bazo. In fact, it is just the opposite.

As a last minute decision, Bazo suggested a plan: “Why don’t we add random filth to this scene? Here, I have some cigarette butts and spent shell casings to begin.” In the end, Mortal Combat shows the desert in its true form, including cigarette butts, water bottle caps, spent shell casings, and other forms of trash you might see in a war-torn desert.

Healing in Flames features several pieces conceptualized and created by the soldiers themselves, under the watchful eyes of instructors Patricia Davidson and Greg Owen, who are both well-established artists in the Pacific Northwest. All pieces were inspired by the soldiers’ experiences while on tours of duty. The exhibition also features a short documentary film created by the soldiers, which highlights their experiences within the Hot Shop Heroes program.

The soldiers were quite pleased with the accuracy achieved by the exhibition installation crew at Museum of Glass in creating a representation of the T Wall, a large concrete wall reinforced with rebar used for blast protection purposes in war zones. This T Wall replica displays some of the exhibition’s works of art.

Healing in Flames is on display at Museum of Glass through March 2016.

Derek Klein is a documentary film maker and has been covering the Pacific Northwest and international glass scenes with Museum of Glass for the past seven years.