March 9, 2006
Whitworth Art Alumna Excels as Curatorial Assistant for Corning Museum of Glass
Whitworth alumna Laura Cotton, the curatorial research assistant at the Corning Museum of Glass, in New York, recently published an article in the Italian magazine Ceramic Antica. In the article Cotton discusses some of the most important pieces in the museum's world-renowned glass collection, which spans 3,500 years.
As a curatorial research assistant, Cotton works on variety of projects with different museum departments. She assists the museum's four curators, whose expertise range from ancient glass to contemporary glass. She also does research for the curators as well as catalogues objects and prepares exhibits.
"I feel very lucky that I get to work with, and learn about, all the different types of glass, and that I get to see firsthand how four very different curators work," Cotton says. "I also have my own projects, such as preparing the exhibit and writing articles. Within this position I'm basically learning about and gaining experience in everything I'll need to know to step into a curatorial position one day."
Cotton's exhibit, "Worlds Within: The Evolution of the Paperweight," opens Nov. 16 at the museum. The exhibit tells the story of how the glass paperweight has evolved from the classic period of paperweight-making in mid-19th-century Europe and the United States to the present day. Using objects from the museum's permanent collection, the exhibition examines the transformation of the paperweight, from what it was in the past to where artists are taking the techniques today.
"After only working here a few months, I was very excited and surprised about the fact that I was given my first exhibit to curate on my own," Cotton says. "It shows how much faith my supervisors have in my abilities, which feels good."
Cotton is a 1997 graduate from Whitworth, where she double-majored in art and art administration. While at Whitworth she completed an internship at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (formerly known as the Cheney Cowles Museum). After graduation, Cotton spent five years working in different jobs in the art world. She completed her master's degree in museum studies at the University of Washington in June 2004.
"By the time I entered graduate school, I knew for sure that I wanted to be a curator," Cotton says. "It allows me to use my artistic creativity to create exhibits. I get to work with extraordinary art collections and artists, and I get to do research and to write. I will also enjoy the travel that will be involved as my career progresses."
Cotton is currently writing two new articles: the first is about the principle glassblowers of the New England Glass Company, which operated in East Cambridge, Mass., from 1818-1892 and is considered one of America's most significant glass companies, according to Cotton. Her second article is about the symbol of the pineapple in art, specifically glass art, and its cultural meaning.
"The best feeling for me is to look back and see how far I've come in my life, not only professionally, but also spiritually, emotionally and intellectually, since I entered Whitworth," Cotton says. "I am very grateful for the four years I spent at Whitworth; those years were the first step in a journey that has lead to many great things for me."
Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.