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Readers for Makers

“Readers for Makers”

I was recently commissioned to write an essay (“One Hundred Years Out”) for The Glass Reader. This publication is being edited by Jeffrey Sarmiento and Kevin Petrie (who are both makers and writers based at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, UK) and it will be published by Bloomsbury in early 2020. I thought it timely to consider the benefits of a reader and also to review several readers that might be helpful to glass and ceramic artists.

A “reader” is another term for an anthology; it is a book of selected writings on a particular subject or by a particular author. If compiled well, these volumes are especially useful in giving us an overview of a given and key texts (both theoretical and practical) in a field. Often, the selections are edited down—or abridged--to essential paragraphs; as a writer I have a slight bias against this because it shortens an author’s argument. Both the general sections and individual selections of a reader are often preceded by the editor’s summary comments. These editorial comments may also be helpful in understanding the actual texts, their historical significance in their particular arena, and their broader cultural context.

For makers who are embarking in their careers and may also be lecturing (either as teachers or giving artist talks), there have been a number of recent readers that could prove helpful in articulating their ideas and aspirations. In the studio or classroom, you may find readers useful in assigning short readings to introduce a series of concepts for your students for discussion.

Opening paragraph of my essay for The Glass Reader, which will be published early in 2020.

“One Hundred Years Out: The Relevance of 1920s Glass to Current Practices”

Has the artworld moved beyond The Large Glass? I am speaking of Marcel Duchamp’s double-paned sculpture constructed a century ago. Is it truly contemporary in its provocation and prescience? Can The Large Glass stand up to the insistent allure of our digital technology and screen culture? And, more radical still, do other modern glass forms that are physically overlooked and critically dismissed join Duchamp’s masterpiece in its presentness? I contend that a hundred years out, three different types of 1920s glass manufacture—the studio objects of Marcel Duchamp, the workshop prototypes of Josef Albers, and the factory commodities of Guerlain and Chanel—are both current and compelling.

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