Kent State’s glass program celebrates 50 years through glass exhibitions

This is a colored adhesive sculpture. The gallery is open until Oct. 5, 2019.

Abigail Mack

Although it’s often called the “golden anniversary,” 50 years is looking a little different for Kent State’s School of Art.

Started in 1969 by Henry Halem, Kent State’s studio glass program is celebrating 50 years by presenting three exhibitions of glass-centered artwork from local and national artists.   

The main exhibition, which is a national curated show titled “Kent State Glass@50,” has been in the works for over a year. The exhibition opened on Sept. 4 and runs until Oct. 4 in the Center for the Visual Arts (CVA) Gallery. Curated by Associate Professor and Head of Kent State’s glass program, Davin Ebanks, and professor Benjamin Johnson from the Cleveland Institute of Art, the exhibition shows both historical and never-before-seen pieces. 

“I think glass is just bigger than that, than just us,” Ebanks said, referring to the decision to make “Kent State Glass@50” a national invitational show instead of just a Kent State alumni show. Ebanks’ hope is to connect the university’s revamped studio glass program to artists and educators across the country.

Since beginning at Kent in 2015, Ebanks said he aimed to make the university’s glass program more forward-thinking and reconnect it with the current glass community. Ebanks said that the program should rank Kent State among other top tier schools because of the facilities, variety of equipment and amount of opportunities it offers.    

Ebanks is working on bringing back past offerings, such as flameworking and neon, to make the program more accessible. Given his own diverse background, Ebanks also wants the university to have a more holistic approach to the medium and give students more opportunities to find something in glass they enjoy. He hopes for the program to be “more inclusive, less exclusive.”  

When the program started 50 years ago, it was the fourth glass program nationally and has remained the oldest in Ohio.    

A national juried exhibition, “Emerging Glass,” curated by Ebanks and professor Lisa Demagall of Kent State’s School of Art will also be showing in the CVA’s Payto Gallery. The exhibition received more than 160 entries from more than 60 artists. “Emerging Glass” may become an annual show in the future Ebanks said. In the KSU Downtown Gallery, there will also be “Tim Stover: Linear Integration,” a solo exhibition from a Kent State alumnus. Both exhibitions further commemorate the anniversary and display a variety of glass-related pieces.  

“When you put it (the artwork) out into the world, it takes on its own life and its own meaning because of the context of the world that it lives in,” Ebanks said. 

Opening receptions for all three exhibitions will take place on Friday, Sept. 6 from 5-7 p.m. at their respective galleries. All exhibitions and receptions are free and open to the public.  

“I think if you come to the show, all the shows, you can really see how people … are taking that kind of opportunity and using the material to explore ideas and make beautiful things,” Ebanks said.

Abigail Mack is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected]