Though glass has ancient traditions in Europe, it’s a relatively young art form in the United States. Factory facilities were producing glass works just over 50 years ago, but the idea of “glass art” didn’t exist. In 1962, the first glass program in America brought the idea of studio glass to fruition, marking a fundamental shift in glassblowing in America. The Studio Glass movement put greater emphasis on the artist as designer and maker and encouraged the creation of one-of-a-kind objects.

Since those beginnings, interest and experimentation with glass art has flourished, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. A recent study led by the Glass Art Society found it as the leading regional hub for glass art in the United States. More than 700 glass artists, from emerging artists to master glassmakers, live in Washington; Pilchuck Glass School, an internationally renowned center for glass art education, thrives here; and more than 100 glass art studios made their home in the region.

Misoda Glass, Refract 2021 (photo courtesy Megan Swann Photography)

So why has the Pacific Northwest become the center of studio glass art?

Chihuly Garden and Glass and Visit Seattle set out to answer that question by creating Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience, the nation’s newest festival highlighting creative uses of glass. Now in its fourth year, Refract is bringing together over 70 local artists and art organizations to host events throughout the region including shows, demos, parties, exhibitions, and exclusive access to artist studios. Consider making a weekend trip with unique hotel packages centered around the festival.

Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience will take place October 13–16, 2022. Join this fall and see where glass art is created with obsessive passion, beauty, and who-knows-what’s-next creativity. Explore the magic and depths of this fascinating material and celebrate alongside the artists who put this region on the map.

For more information, visit refractseattle.org.

Audrey Blair Brown and Dani Kaes at Gallery Mack, Refract 2021 (photo courtesy Megan Swann Photography)
Raya Friday, Refract 2021 (photo courtesy Megan Swann Photography)
Gather at Chihuly Garden and Glass, Refract 2021 (photo courtesy Megan Swann Photography)

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