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

ArtsWA: Fueling the Fire for Hot Shop Heroes

thumbnail_logo-artswa-washington-state-arts-commission-2Just as we were getting ready to close Museum of Glass to slow the spread of COVID-19 we received some great news from the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), an organization that has been promoting the value of arts in Washington communities since 1961.

The Washington State Arts Commission, through its partnership with Creative Forces*, has provided MOG’s Hot Shop Heroes™ program with a $1,400 grant to purchase tools, molds and glass for the Museum’s new Hot Shop Heroes Advanced Production Class, which launched in January 2020. Through this award, Hot Shop Heroes was also able to purchase a customized mold for signing glass art pieces created during the class. Members of the class are learning how to create salable glass art for the Museum of Glass store. The Advanced Production Class gives participants a chance to pay-it-forward. Proceeds generated from the sale of these items benefit the Hot Shop Heroes program.

Since 2013 MOG’s Hot Shop Heroes program has offered glassmaking classes for soldiers and veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Museum of Glass partners with the Warrior Transition Battalion and the Intrepid Spirit Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

To learn more about ArtsWA visit: arts.wa.gov

thumbnail_th*Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the state and local arts agencies that seeks to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers.

Lessons Learned Through Hot Shop Heroes

By Chad Widmer, Hot Shop Heroes student

In the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire glassmaking classes, I’ve observed that there are a lot of life lessons in glassblowing. For example, always keep the glass turning and don’t let it get off center. If you keep turning when you are off center, you will get horribly out of shape! Let go of things that don’t go right—just make another one. Sometimes you just have to work with what you get. You can shape things when they are ready, but if they are not, you might break something if you force it. And, make gravity your friend—sound advice for any profession.

I suppose, what we veterans are doing in the Hot Shop Heroes program is art therapy. For me, it is making a difference. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to anything. The civilian world is just different than the military world. I’ve been out for a while and it’s good to be around people who speak the same language again. I am genuinely happy to see everyone at the start of each Hot Shop Heroes session, and I am deeply disappointed if I miss one. We are working on teams again. We look out for each other by shielding with paddles, opening the furnace doors, and watching each other’s sculptures progress. Nothing beats seeing the genuine joy in someone’s eyes when they blow cap a bubble for the first time.

In my day job, I am a marine biologist at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (I used the GI Bill and Army College fund to pay for college). I designed and curated the jellyfish exhibition, which exemplifies jellyfish as living art. The exhibit is filled with jellyfish, paintings, sculpture, and music. Glass is of course a natural fit. I’ve been adding pieces we have made in class inside of my jellyfish displays.

jellies-and-glass jellies-and-glass-1

As I progress, I hope to add some amazing substrates for deep-sea creatures to live on—stay tuned. The thing I love most about working with glass is that with enough practice you can make anything you want. I love that freedom.

People sometimes say, “Thank you for your service.” I don’t know how to respond to that… but I can now sincerely say to the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Heroes program, “Thank you for making it worth it.”

As Seen on TV

By Alex Carr, Communications Manager

This week, Museum of Glass took to Puget Sound television screens to discuss some of the Museum’s April exhibitions and events.

On KING5’s New Day Northwest, Hot Shop Heroes Lead Instructor, Patricia Davidson, sat down with Sergeant First Class Peter Bazo to talk about Healing in Flames, which closes this month.

Watch their segment and plan a visit to see the exhibition, on display through April 24.

New Day NW

Also on television this week: Curator of Education and Community Engagement, Bonnie Wright.

Bonnie joined Tahoma Audubon Executive Director, Krystal Kyer, on TV Tacoma’s CityLine morning show to discuss the upcoming Mirrored Murrelets event on Thursday, April 21.

IMG_1323

The two organizations are working together to offer visitor an opportunity to learn about art and birds at Museum of Glass during Third Thursday. From 6 to 7:30 pm, learn more about the art, science, and policy surrounding the plight of the marbled murrelet, a sea bird that nests in the forests of the Pacific Coast. Following the panel discussion, take a tour of Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora C. Mace: Every Soil Bears Not Everything, which features an entire gallery devoted to birds. Admission is free!

Watch their CityLine segment here (beginning around the 45 minute mark).

Alex Carr is the Communications Manager at Museum of Glass. When she’s not circulating the Hot Shop floor trying to get the perfect Instagram shot for the Museum, you’ll find her baking at home, running at Green Lake, or exploring Washington’s wineries.

Museum of Glass Participates in Military Couples Night Out

By Bonnie Wright, Curator of Education and Community Engagement

The holidays are over; it’s cold outside, so now what?

The Ranger, NW Airlifter, JBLM Living, NW Military and Stars and Stripes newspapers, and USAA appreciate that couples need a little time to themselves to get out and have some fun this time of year, so they organize the annual event, Military Couples Night Out!

overhead

crowd

This annual free event includes food, a DJ, dancing lessons, games, and art-making activities provided by 16+ vendors from the community, including Museum of Glass (MOG). The site of the event changes every year—this year it was held at the Washington State History Museum, MOG’s neighbor. Museum exhibitions were free to explore all night!

MOG supplied a metal-embossing activity featuring snowflake shapes, as well as designs representing all military branches.

trace

stencils

This event is a wonderful way for the Museum to spread the word about the Hot Shop Heroes glassblowing program for soldiers and veterans; many at the event are new to Tacoma and this was their first introduction to the Museum and its programs.

explaining

One lucky winner won a pair of free tickets to the Slider Cook-off on March 26. Maybe you’ll see them there!

Bonnie Wright is the Curator of Education and Community Engagement at Museum of Glass. A newcomer to the west coast, Bonnie can often be found exploring Tacoma, Seattle, and the region’s natural wonders.