Television history is about to be made. The Corning Museum Of Glass in Corning is one of the participants of “Blown Away,” which will bring the magical art of glassblowing to a global audience through Netflix.
The 10-week competitive series begins airing on Friday on the streaming platform. An exhibition of the one-of-a-kind glass created on the show is currently on display at the museum.
The making of glass art has never been the primary subject of any major television programming. This changes with Friday's debut on Netflix. An epic-sized hot glass studio was built for the competition.
“Blown Away” follows a group of 10 highly skilled glassblowers from the U.S. and Canada, each of whom have limited time in each episode to design and make beautiful works of art that are assessed by a panel of expert judges.
One of the glass artists is eliminated in each 30-minute episode until a winner is announced in the tenth and final episode. YouTube star Nick Uhas, best known for his popular science show “Nickipedia,” is the host of “Blown Away” and glass artist Katherine Gray serves as the “resident evaluator.”
The Corning Museum of Glass, which houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass, as well as the renown library of publications about glass, is one of the top glassmaking schools in the world and is a key consulting partner on the series.
Eric Meek, senior manager of Hot Glass Programs at CMOG, served as a “guest evaluator” for the series finale, helping to select the winner of the competition. Also involved in the closing episode are seven of the Corning Museum’s expert glassmakers. Catherine Ayers, G. Brian Juk, George Kennard, Chris Rochelle, Tom Ryder, Chris Rochelle, and Helen Tegeler assisted the two finalists in the studio and helped them realize their last challenge.
“The Corning Museum of Glass inspires people to see glass in a new light,” said Meek. “‘Blown Away’ is a global platform, and it’s exciting to think about how this will broaden glassmaking’s level of exposure. The more we learned about the project, the more convinced we became that we should partner. We at The Corning Museum of Glass aim to inspire people to see glass in a new light, and ‘Blown Away’ is a global platform. It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of this level of exposure. It’s the perfect platform at the perfect time, and I think ‘Blown Away' could change the perception of glass on a large scale.”
Meek continued, “I hope the glass community sees ‘Blown Away’ for what it is, a love letter to glass.The more people know about glass, the more they will respect it as a medium for artistic expression. The beautiful cinematography of ‘Blown Away’ presents glass in a respectful way and will get people excited about a material that’s so often taken for granted. I believe there will be nothing but positive outcomes.”
The winner will complete two working sessions at Corning this summer: July 17-18 and Aug. 28-29, in preparation for the “Blown Away Residency,” which will occur Oct. 14-18. During all of these time periods, the winner will participate in glassmaking demonstrations for the public in the CMOG’s Amphitheater Hot Shop.
Additionally, the Corning Museum Of Glass is displaying the exhibit “Blown Away: Glassblowing Comes to Netflix,” which tells the story of how the museum found its way into the global spotlight. Visitors can see work created on the show by each competitor, and watch behind-the-scenes documentaries with interviews conducted on the set and footage of the Museum’s Hot Glass Demo Team taking part in the finale.
The 10 glassblowers who compete against each other on the program are: Deborah Czeresko (New York State), Kevin Kiff (California) Benjamin Kikkert (British Columbia), Leah Kudel (Alberta), Janusz Wozniak (Washington State), Patrick Primeau (Quebec), Alexander Rosenberg (Pennsylvania), Kristen Momoko “Momo” Schafer (Massachusetts), Annette Sheppard (Georgia), and Edgar Valentine (Washington State).
The winner of “Blown Away” is awarded the title of “Best in Blow” and receives a prize package valued at $60,000, which includes a week-long Guest Artist appearance at the Corning Museum Of Glass.
The series was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the largest glassblowing studio ever built in North America. It was designed specifically for the scope and scale of the competition. The space allows 10 artists to work simultaneously, using two large glass-melting furnaces, 10 reheating furnaces, and 10 individual work stations. The Craft and Design Glass Studio at Sheridan College in the Toronto area consulted on the studio design and aided the competitors for the first nine episodes.
The guest judges for the series were not limited to those having expertise in glassmaking. All of the men and women must have had an understanding of creativity, conceptual design, and what makes something beautiful and appealing to the eye.
The ten judges are: Jesse Hirst (theoretical futurist), Greta Hodgkinson (National Ballet Of Canada), Marc Lepine (gastronomical chef), Jay MacDonell (glass artist, lighting designer, and glass art production manager), Eric Meek (as noted above, from the CMOG), Dr. Janet Morrison (President and Vice Chancellor of Sheridan College, an arts and technology institute in Mississauga, Ontario), Catherine Osborne (design and architecture consultant and creative project director), Emily Pearce-Bibona (international wine competition judge and sommelier), Chris Taylor (Pilchuck Glass School), and Perry Tung (senior art specialist and auctioneer, Bonhams Auction House, Toronto).
A second season of “Blown Away” is under consideration, but no confirmed decision has been made about continuing the series.
Along with the Corning Museum Of Glass and Netflix, “Blown Away” is a co-production of Marblemedia, Inc. and Blue Ant Media, both of Toronto.
Michael Calleri reviews films for the Niagara Gazette. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.