Susie J. Silbert Revamps New Glass Review

Susie J. Silbert Revamps New Glass Review

New Glass Review 39 cover
Corning Museum of Glass

New Glass Review was launched nearly four decades ago and has continued to feature innovative glass artists from around the world ever since. The Corning Museum of Glass' curator of modern and contemporary glass, Susie J. Silbert, took over as editor of the magazine in 2016. She spoke with us about the magazine's history and what she hopes for its future.

What is New Glass Review?
New Glass Review launched nearly 40 years ago to harness the energy of the Corning Museum of Glass’ exhibition "New Glass: A Worldwide Survey" (1979). That show spurred institutional and individual collecting, inspired artists, and started new critical conversations on glass.

Since then, New Glass Review has been released every year, in more or less the same format. Different curators have put their mark on the publication, and the printing has moved in and out of the country, but the basic outlines have remained the same.

What is different about the latest issue?
Before I joined the museum, I was always excited and then a little bit frustrated to see New Glass Review. I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening in the pictures, and if I didn’t know the artist, I really had no way of knowing what was going on. As a curator, my goal is to show an artist’s work in the best light and to help people connect with and understand it. That is exactly what I’m trying to do with New Glass Review.

I’m generally trying to make the journal more readable and more interesting. We’ve organized the images thematically, so that they are easier to view and are given context. We’ve also added short commentaries written by the selectors next to each piece’s image. I’m trying to add additional content that is meaningful and interesting to readers, including an interview with the museum’s Rakow Commission artist of the year.

What has the trend been in the number of entries from year to year?
For the last 15 years, the number of submissions has been pretty consistently around 900. This year we received around 1,450 submissions from a whopping 52 countries!

Tell us about the process of choosing jurors, reviewing entries, and coming to consensus around those that will be published.
I try to keep a healthy mix of people who are fluent in glass from a variety of perspectives. In general, what I’m looking for is a good mix of people who are going to truly pay attention to the work, evaluate it on its own merits, and think expansively about the material.

The review process is pretty incredible. The jurors really gain a deep appreciation and understanding of the work in a four-round, two-day deep dive into glass. New Glass doesn’t require complete consensus. You can see the selector’s initials at the bottom of each image, creating a living record of thought in glass.

What are the benefits and challenges of producing a publication that has such a broad international scope?
I can’t think of another place you can find such a comprehensive look at global glass. The biggest challenge of New Glass is making sure people know their submissions are valuable whether they are published or not – there are always more good submissions that we can print in a given year, and that is compounded by the international scope of New Glass. It’s a big, but totally rewarding job to reach out to glass communities around the world.

What discoveries did you make as you put together New Glass Review 39?
New Glass Review always pushes the technological and aesthetic boundaries of contemporary glass. One thing I’ve noticed over the last two years is more work that uses the act of making glass – formulating batch, melting glass – as a means of creating meaning. The idea of making a material from scratch is common to other craft mediums, such as ceramics, but it’s a pretty new development in glass.

What else should we know?
In honor of the 40th anniversary of New Glass Review, the Corning Museum will be hosting a special exhibition in our new Contemporary Art and Design wing, featuring all 100 works in New Glass Review 40. Such an expansive inquiry makes this show essential to anyone with an interest in craft and craft thinking. Mark your calendars for May 2019.