Glassblowing and the First Year Experience

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First Year Experience staff had the opportunity this past week to observe some amazing artists-in-residence at The GlassWorks Studio.  Part of the Rosenberg Institute for Passionate and Emerging Artists, these individuals demonstrated how one creates a work of art.  GlassWorks is one of the unique experiences that students at Salem State University have an opportunity to take advantage of – how many colleges do you know that have a working glass studio on campus where you can take classes?

Witnessing the amazing pieces that the summer artists created made us think about the lessons that first year students can take away from an experience like this.  Web_Rosenberg Demo 4 074

Creating a work of art in the glass studio isn’t a solitary endeavor.  Each of the artists worked together to keep the glass moving, to shape the piece, to provide just the right amount of heat at all times so that the glass didn’t cool and become unworkable.  Similarly, first year students have a team of people around them working to ensure their success.  Whether it’s family, faculty, friends, or staff it’s critical that first year students recognize and take advantage of the team around them.  Succeeding in college involves collaboration and working together.

As the artists were navigating the various spaces where they were working on the piece, they needed to be in constant communication so that no one got in someone’s way while they were carrying the hot glass, using the blowtorches, or opening the doors to the furnaces.  Similarly, communication is key to navigating your first year of college – you will need to learn to ask for clarification, seek out additional information, or connect and develop relationships with your professors, peers, and administrators on campus.  Constant communication = success!


At the end of the demonstration, as the final piece was being carried into the oven, the door hit the back of the heron and shattered part of the glass.  Two hours of creating that fabulous piece of art and a small mistake changed everything.  What was amazing was that the artists looked at each other and instead of being upset, they began giving high fives and congratulations for a job well done.  It didn’t matter that the final product was negatively impacted – what mattered was that they still accomplished something and they knew that at the end of the day it was more important to be positive and continue on than dwell on what didn’t go well.  That is pretty true to your first year of college – sometimes things won’t go well, sometimes you will fail at something – but don’t let it stop you.  Instead pick yourself up, brush it off, and keep going….perseverance will get you to your end goal despite a few bumps along the way.Web_Rosenberg Demo 4 168

Want to learn more?  Check out the GlassWorks online at and consider taking a class during your undergraduate time at Salem State University.  It is one of many amazing opportunities offered at the university!


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