'Blown Away' Season 3 has close ties with CMoG. How to see the glass in person.
Curator Susie Silbert served as the guest evaluator in the finale, which featured CMoG's Hot Glass Team. You can see the winning piece at the museum.
Susie J. Silbert is used to making difficult decisions. It’s a key component of her job as curator of postwar and contemporary glass at the Corning Museum of Glass.
But making those decisions in front of Netflix cameras for a popular reality TV series streamed across the globe? That was a whole new experience.
Silbert is featured prominently in Season 3 of "Blown Away," a Netflix series released in late July. Silbert serves as the guest evaluator in Episode 10, the season finale that determined the Season 3 winner — though “winner” is a relative term.
“I was very happy with how it turned out and glad they kept my line that there’s no winning at art,” said Silbert. “One of the things that was the biggest challenge for me going on the show is that I really don’t believe you can win at art. I believe winning at art just means getting to make your work every day. It’s so hard to be an artist, and especially hard to be an artist in glass.”
"Blown Away" begins with 10 contestants from around the world competing in Season 3. The contestants “face 10 creative challenges that push their technical and conceptual skills to the limit and result in deeply personal art pieces,” according to the Netflix description of the show. Just two contestants remained by Episode 10, when Silbert judged their work to help determine who would become “Best in Glass” and win the prize package.
Silbert is accustomed to making tough calls; she selects the recipient of CMoG’s prestigious Rakow Commission, awarded annually to an artist not currently represented in the museum’s collection. Viewers get to know the "Blown Away" contestants over the course of the season. Silbert, who spent a week in Hamilton, Ontario during filming last fall, focused on the work more than the personalities.
“The show is about the glass but it’s also about the people who made it. Coming on as a judge, I didn’t have the benefit of all of that backstory,” said Silbert. “That doesn’t change the decision. I would have made the same decision based on the work and putting it on view for the public, but it is an interesting difference coming on as a judge.”
How to see the glass featured on Netflix series Blown Away at CMoG
In a new twist for Season 3, the winner’s final piece will be displayed at the Corning Museum of Glass along with one object from each of the 10 contestants. The exhibit opens Saturday, Aug. 20 on the museum’s West Bridge, while the winning work from the final episode is scheduled to be installed in early fall.
Silbert said the success of "Blown Away" has raised the museum’s profile across the world, with some fans visiting Corning specifically to see the work created on the show.
“People have reached out to me from all over the world that have watched the episode and either have a connection to Corning or want to develop a connection to Corning and to glass,” said Silbert. “I’ve seen people come for 'Blown Away' and they stay for everything else at the museum. They stay for the incredible contemporary art, the history, the science, and they stay for the glass blowing.
“It’s great for this museum to have so much attention on it, but it’s also really good for our region and our community to have people have an additional reason to come to the Southern Tier.”
CMoG has been involved with "Blown Away" since the inception of the show, serving as a consulting partner. The museum’s Hot Glass Team has also assisted contestants in each season, with the Season 3 finale featuring Eric Meek, Jeff Mack, Helen Tegeler, Catherine Ayers, George Kennard and Chris Rochelle.
“You can see the sighs of relief the finalists have when they see our team come in,” said Silbert. “Working in glass is so high stress, and being in the last episode on a reality show is so high stress. Knowing that you have people that are as talented as the glass blowers at the Corning Museum of Glass is relaxing and comforting in a time when you really need it.”
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'Blown Away’s' Season 3 winner will have residency at CMoG
The Corning Museum of Glass was a natural fit to partner with "Blown Away." The museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass, the library of record on glass, and one of the top glassmaking schools in the world.
"Blown Away" has added to that legacy. The show’s prize package includes a residency for the winner at the museum’s state-of the-art glassblowing facilities. The Season 3 winner will embark upon the Blown Away Residency at CMoG sometime in 2023. Season 2 winner Elliot Walker said the residency was a “game-changer” for his art.
“I was able to work with the museum’s Hot Glass Team to build on the concepts and themes from the show to push my practice in new directions,” said Walker.
While no official announcement has been made, Silbert expects "Blown Away" to continue for a Season 4 on Netflix, noting its appearances on the streaming service’s Top 10 Most Watched lists in multiple countries.
“We are thrilled when we hear from our visitors that they were inspired to visit and learn more about glass by watching the show,” said Karol Wight, the museum’s president and executive director. “As we mark the halfway point of the United Nations’ International Year of Glass, it is especially exciting that new audiences from around the world are being introduced to an art form that is at the heart of what we do at the Corning Museum of Glass — and that viewers of Season 3 will learn they can see the winning installation on view at the museum.”
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