Glass Department Head Kier Lugo has been practicing and teaching the craft for nearly a decade. With a special love for the art and a glowing way of speaking about the material itself, Kier sat down with us in October for a perspective into what’s happening with glass at The Crucible today.
Sarah Dabby: Let’s start with the basics.
Kier Lugo: Sure thing. My name is Kier Lugo, and I’m Department Head of the Glass Blowing Program here at The Crucible.
SD: How did you get into glass blowing? Did you grow up with it?
KL: Pretty much. My dad taught jewelry and art classes at Palomar Community College in San Marcos, CA, so I spent a lot of time around the art department and always knew I wanted to pursue art. I wasn’t sure what medium I wanted to pursue until I was 13 or 14, when I got really into ceramics. At that point, I realized I loved working in three dimensions. I thought ceramics was my calling until the summer of 1997, when I took my first glass blowing class. I’ve barely touched clay since then.
SD: How did you get involved with The Crucible?
KL: I started off as a volunteer at The Crucible in 2003, when I started studying at SFSU. Throughout my college years, I worked my way up from volunteer to intern to assistant studio manager to where I am today.
SD: Can you tell us about your department and some of its course offerings?
KL: I started the glass blowing department a little less than two years ago. It’s a relatively new program, but we’ve been growing pretty rapidly. We offer a range of classes, from one-day taster classes and introductory courses, to advanced courses focusing on different aspects of glass (e.g. shapes or techniques).
SD: What types of students does The Crucible attract?
KL: One nice thing about The Crucible is that our students are really diverse; we attract a huge mix of people, from newcomers and hobbyists to aspiring art professionals. Many students have a day job, and come here for a creative outlet or to learn something new. We also attract students with diverse skills sets that they can apply to new art forms.
SD: What makes a student’s experience at The Crucible special?
KL: A few things. First, our class sizes are always intentionally small; each student gets a lot of personal attention with instructors, which makes a very big difference when learning something new. At The Crucible, you’ll be – at most – one of six students in a class with two to three instructors. In contrast, when I was studying glass, my classes had a student to teacher ratio of 30:1 – the smaller class size makes all the difference. The other thing that’s really unique to The Crucible is our openness to answer questions and help each other out. We have a really diverse group of studios and mediums, from machine shop and foundry to blacksmithing, jewelry, wood, and glass. It’s unusual to have all those disciplines under one roof, and the fact that people in different departments are so forthcoming about their knowledge and experience makes our creative environment even better.
SD: Do you have any words of wisdom for prospective students?
KL: If you’re thinking about doing it, just do it. Don’t keep putting it off. It’s easy to make time for it, and easy to make it affordable: we offer one-day classes, tasters, weekend intensives, and have a really great volunteer program that can give you free tuition on classes. There are also tons of different mediums you can try, so you can experiment and explore and see if there’s a medium that clicks with you. If you’re thinking about it, just come on by and try it out.
Kier Spins Red-Hot Glass like a Pizza from The Crucible on Vimeo.