Finding Color in Corning
“I returned to New York wondering why we made so little use of our eyes, why we refrained so obstinately from taking advantage of colour in our architecture and our clothing when nature indicates its mastership.” — Louis Comfort Tiffany
Mr. Tiffany certainly had a point.
It’s late February in Western New York. In the bleak late winter landscape, you can be hard pressed to find any color. Unless you consider muddy brown fields and yellowing corn stalks color.
This February break, my family did not escape to Floridian blue skies or green palm trees. With no white snow, Western New York this time of year is nothing but grey.
So, we decided to go to the Corning Museum of Glass for color.
I came across the above quote by Louis Tiffany in front of one of his gorgeous windows that had been salvaged from a mansion on Hastings-on-Hudson.
This quote made me think – we really are afraid of color.
How many of us take the safe route and dress in black or beige because we don’t want to stand out from the crowd? Yes, we see models wearing bright fuschia or tangerine. But in our closets, we always go back to black.
Tiffany’s quote holds true to the home as well. My in-laws are in the process of selling their home. Most rooms have been repainted to – you guessed it – eggshell white.
That’s a good thing for my husband’s childhood room, which was brown. Um, my mother-in-law referred to it as s*&t brown. In this case, repainting was a wise move.
But I was sad to learn that they had to paint over the crimson dining room as well as the hand-painted grey and silver squiggles my father created on their kitchen walls.
Color in and on a house was also the talk of my street when homeowners who since moved away painted their home dark purple. That really stood out on a block of beige, tan, and grey homes.
When this house came on the market to sell, potential buyers were scared off and could not get past the purple hue of the home. During an open house, my husband and I took a peek inside. The colors continued inside as well: a brick-red dining room, cobalt blue kitchen and an orange bedroom. And, in the bedroom, the lady of the house proudly displayed her collection of 30 different shades of nail polish.
I actually loved how these soon-to-be ex neighbors embraced color.
Finally, the house sold. The first thing the new owners did was repaint the house. To grey.
But, I digress. Back to CMOG, as we Western New Yorkers call it.
When you think of Corningware, certainly this image comes to mind:
Your typical casserole dish. Very practical. Very white.
At the Corning Museum of Glass, the visitor learns that glass is science. It is everywhere in our everyday lives: light bulbs, windshields, windows. Fiber Optics. Casseroles. Glass insulates our houses, we can cook in glass, conduct scientific experiments with it. Tempered glass is used for shower doors and car windshields so they will not shatter into sharp shards if they break.
But, step into another section of the museum, into the more contemporary galleries, and the mundane is left behind.
Artists worldwide have taken this medium, and with it practical objects, and stretched both glass and our imagination to rethink the most practical of objects.
Imagine asking your kids to set a table with a top like this:
Or placing flowers in vases like these
Or putting your feet up at the end of the day on a glass-beaded ottoman
Some artist visualised the human torso in glass:
Still others beckoned us to take a gondola ride suspended along an invisible river:
On our way home, we left all this color behind and re-entered the grey, rainy late winter afternoon. But, we were treated by Mother Nature to one last blast of color: