This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.
Former high school students are returning to Pittsburgh Glass Center.
"SiO2 High School Reunion" is the current exhibit at the glass center in Garfield. It features 12 young artists selected from a group of 500 who've participated in the center's glassmaking programs for high schoolers. The show runs through Jan. 26.
SiO2 is the chemical formula for silica, which is the primary ingredient in glass. SiO2 is also the name of the high school glass program at the center. Students learn glass art as well as the scientific principles behind glass. They explore this medium, and also learn lessons inherent in a studio art setting: teamwork, discipline, communication, leadership and respect.
The 12 former students in the exhibit were picked because they continue to work in glass.
"The artists bring new ideas and techniques from their university experiences, interactions with renowned glass artists, and travels around the world," said Jason Forck, youth education coordinator at the glass center.
For example, Hunter Blackwell of Penn Hills, a former student at Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, is studying glass at the Rhode Island School of Design.
"The SiO2 program was my introduction to glass as a medium but more importantly into the glass community. One of the best resources this program offered me was its accessibility to internationally recognized artists and craftsmen," Mr. Blackwell said.
Elizabeth Fortunato, a graduate of Baldwin High School and Kent State, is a working artist in Pittsburgh. In 2012, she received the Bullseye Glass Emerge award and was a Pilchuck Emerging Artist in Residence, two prestigious recognitions for young glass artists.
"SiO2 provided me with my first true challenge," she said. "Learning glassmaking became my only goal. Beginning college with the intention of pursing a BFA in glass gave me a tremendous advantage over less focused students. I am still intrigued and challenged by glass."
The Pittsburgh Glass Center, at 547 Penn Ave., Garfield, will host an open house from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. The glass center, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Pittsburgh Filmmakers collaborate frequently on workshops, programming and administration. For more information, visit pittsburgharts.org and pittsburghglasscenter.org.