Heart of Glass

I’ve driven by the exit for the Corning Museum of Glass about five or six times in my various travels, and heard raves about the place from friends who had visited. So on this trip to New York, I decided to take the time to stop by. To say I was blown away (pun intended!) would be an understatement. I’ve never seen a museum quite like it–a fascinating combination of history, art, and technology, all revolving around glass.

The museum is divided into four main sections. First, there is a large gallery for large-scale modern works in glass. Perhaps the most famous artist in this medium is Chihuly, and indeed there is one of his works in this gallery (along with another in the lobby), but the variety of works in this section is truly stunning.

Anyone who remembers the Vulptex in the second movie in the most recent Star Wars movie might find this work rather familiar:

I was a little surprised there weren’t many works making use of neon, but this piece was stunning.

One of my favourite works was this one. It consists of a number of hanging lamp-like structures over a map of the world. Each “lamp” represents a city — the length showing the amount of time the city has been in existence, and the breadth representing population.

The centre section of the museum is devoted to the science and technology of glass. Displays demostrate advancements of all kinds, including the production of optical glass, the evolution of the production of large sheet glass for windows, the molding of car windshields, the invention of fibreglass, the science behind fibre optics, how large telescope mirrors are manufactured (in fact, the museum is literally built around one early experiment in producing a telescope mirror, the development of borosilicate glass, and how Corningware is produced. There was also a live demonstration of glassblowing.

The largest section of the museum, in terms of scope, is a display of glass artistry through history, starting with Egyptian glass and carrying into the 20th century. I could have spent hours in just this gallery. It was rather astounding.

There were several stunning examples of Tiffany glass:

And, of course, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed glass. I had mixed feelings about seeing a Tree of Life panel in the museum, given that the Darwin Martin House has been slowly collecting many of these windows that were dispersed when the house was in decline, but, on the other hand, this window really belongs in this museum as an example of his design.

The final gallery contained a large number of mostly smaller-scale works.

I spent two and a half hours in the museum. I could have easily spent twice that. Even more intriguing, the museum also regularly offers workshops for visitors to make their own pieces of glass art. I could easily see spending a whole day there.

And the gift shop was stunning. I ended up purchasing two things–a pair of clear glass earrings, and this little guy, for obvious reasons.

When I woke up this morning, I realized that it was the last day of my extended “vacation.” I am shutting that door behind me after nine weeks. It was rough initially. I worried about a lot of things–whether that path to a new direction would be rough or clear, whether I’d end up pursuing the risks and rewards of contract work, how long things would take, what the ups and downs would be, whether my plans for travel would be realized. Looking back, it has been one continuous upward slope, with only the smallest of stones in my path. I think the pandemic years–and perhaps, significantly, that year I spent blogging daily on a Stoic writing prompt, as well as finding an intense form of creative joy in needlework–have taught me who I am and what values are important to me. This has all come at a key moment when I realized I was no longer willing to sacrifice joy and passion–not just in hobbies or travel, but in my working life–for mere security. I have perhaps ten years to “retirement”. I want to make a difference in the world–and not just in my free time, where I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have mattered. I have an opportunity to do just that now–to advocate, educate, facilitate, and continue to learn. My old employer no longer found me a fit, no longer saw the value in what I have to offer. Interviewing for this new position, I spoke with passion and authenticity. I am not hiding my lights under a bushel. Either there is value in those things I can bring for a particular company, or there is not, and I presented myself with that in mind. I can go forward confidently, knowing that simply being competent in a field is not enough. I want more. I want to give my all, and I want those around me to desire me to do so because it fits with their own mission and goals.

And as much as I do not believe in destiny, the universe has smiled on me, particularly in these past four weeks or so. A final interview that I “nailed” followed by a job offer. Two bucket list concerts in New York, and one in Montreal that I had not originally planned but that was so right. A chance to ride in the B-25 Mitchell, followed by a chance to attend the CWH 50th gala and hear the Glenn Miller Orchestra less than a week later. Producing a major scroll that I am massively proud of, and creating some wonderful items to make sure my apprentice’s elevation tomorrow is special. Visits with friends, a couple of short local trips, hearing good news for others–from new jobs to new furry companions, to medical tests relieving worries–in a world that needs good news desperately.

I’ve chosen my own new adventure, generated my character, leveled up, and prepared to meet whatever the universe might throw at me. No longer do I fear the opinions of those around me. I am more than up to the challenges.