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President’s Message

President’s Message

It is such an honor to serve as president of the Art Alliance of Contemporary Glass.  I have spent the last year as president-elect, learning about the inner workings of the AACG and its history, and looking for opportunities for its future. I want to express my tremendous gratitude to our immediate past president, Larry Sibrack, for his leadership and contributions during a particularly challenging period for our organization.  

The pandemic brought with it a myriad of challenges that we have all felt on a personal level, as it affected the very core of our day-to-day behaviors and relationships. Early on, however, I was struck by the thought of how different a pandemic world would be if glass did not exist. It provided our window to the outside world, at a time we were told to stay indoors, away from groups and gatherings, even away from family. Relatives and friends were in hospitals that we were not allowed to visit, due to healthcare’s strict rules. My own mother-in-law was cut off from the outside world, as she went through an extensive rehabilitation. A glass window allowed friends and family to gather outside her hospital room and wave hello. A mobile phone with a glass touchscreen allowed us to call her and talk to her through the glass window, as if the window was not there. For decades, drug makers have depended on vials made of borosilicate glass to create containers for vaccines and life-saving medications. When one can easily see through a material, however, we are also quick to forget it is forget its importance. The medium of glass has played a pivotal role not only in the pandemic, but also in shaping the trajectory of the modern world. From innovations in art, to science and technology, glass is in our lives every single day. It is AACG’s mission to highlight what is invisible to many, by building awareness of this material’s rich potential, and raising its visibility in the community.

2022 was a big moment in celebrating the essential role glass has in society, as it received the United Nations designation as the International Year of Glass, and also was a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Studio Glass. AACG was at the forefront in getting the word out about the many exhibitions and activities happening around the world — 1,000+ events, in 95+ countries, with over one million people involved. The IYOG paved the way for a worldwide platform for connection that allowed artists, studios, institutions, and communities everywhere to realize the potential of this incredible material.

As I look toward the future of AACG, I see a strong foundation in place that can provide the support needed as we evolve into the future. For decades, AACG has worked to make institutional change so that the world’s best museums are inclusive, with glass being valued as a fine art medium. We have provided an outstanding number of grants that support this institutional framework and drive our mission of raising the visibility and appreciation of glass art. We also have a successful Visionary program that awards scholarships to art students. All of these things have resulted in the AACG organization making a significant impact in elevating the medium of glass and heightening awareness of the medium. In the same way glass paves the way for innovation and change in society, we now need to innovate and evolve as an organization to be sustainable.

One way we have done that is through the virtual programming implemented by Merrily Orsini at the beginning of the pandemic. Once again, glass played a critical role, as glass optical fibers are the backbone of the internet and have revolutionized the way we communicate.  Our weekly Meet Up series for members and our monthly education series FIRED UP! allowed us to stay connected during the pandemic while sharing in our passion for glass.  

AACG’s virtual programming, as well as the actions of the AACG IYOG Committee, have been instrumental in kickstarting the change we need, to not only stay relevant as an organization, but also to continue being a force in sustaining and elevating art made from glass. Recurring issues for AACG are: how to attract new members and/or collectors, and how to encourage more museums to consider glass as a fine art material. To address these questions, I think it is important to widen our view of who our stakeholders are and formulate a multi-faceted approach to target those different groups — an approach that is viewed as a community effort and a long term process, not a simple action with an immediate result.  Instead of looking for a place to find a new member or new collector, let’s all think about how we can create places, create programming, and create activities that will attract and create new collectors. By coming together and working at both the community level and institutional level, we can implement a more comprehensive approach that supports our mission and leads to a more vibrant, less insular, glass community. Each of us has the power to try something to raise the visibility and awareness of glass art, and it takes a group effort to truly make a difference.

I want to thank everyone who has reached out with their well wishes since my term started, and express my gratitude for this opportunity. I also want to thank each board member and committee member who devoted their time to helping us through the pandemic, with special thanks to Howard Cohen, Diane Farber, Diane Phillips, and John Roth, for continuing and chairing our virtual programming over the last two years, and Jan Smith and Bonnie Marx, who chaired the IYOG Committee. A big thank you also to Linda Greene, who goes above and beyond in helping AACG function so smoothly and took on additional responsibilities through the implementation of our virtual programming. I am looking forward to connecting with all of you in the new year, as we continue to share our passion for art!  


Demetra Theofanous