Western Neon School of Art is proud to be a participant in the inaugural Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience festival taking place this October 17 – 20, 2019.

Though glass has ancient traditions in Europe, it is a relatively young art form in the United States. Just over fifty years ago, factory facilities were producing glass works, 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. In fact, a recent study led by the Glass Art Society found that the Pacific Northwest is the leading regional hub for glass art in the United States. More than seven hundred glass artists, from emerging artists to master glassmakers, live in Washington. Pilchuck Glass School, an internationally renowned center for glass art education, is thriving here. More than one hundred glass art studios made their home in our region.


So why exactly is the Pacific Northwest the center for glass art in America?

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. Held October 17-20, 2019, Refract brings together more than fifty art organizations and artists to host events throughout the region. Tour local studios, get up-close to the art of glassblowing at live demonstrations, explore exhibitions and museums, attend evening parties, and more.

We are excited to announce Your Life Story in Light, an exhibition of neon work by WNSA students, staff, and Seattle-based neon artists as a part of Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience. Local glassblower Jen Elek will display work created during her September workshop with WNSA as a featured artist in the show. Join us on Saturday, October 19 from 6-10pm in our space to celebrate the media of glass and light, view the wide variety of works on display, learn about the history of neon, and enjoy refreshments and entertainment.

Are you interested in displaying your neon work in the show? Read more about the show and submit your work here. Works will be selected by Western Neon School of Art Assistant Director and show curator Audrey Blair Brown. Deadline to apply is Friday, August 30, 2019. Artists will be notified by Friday, September 6, 2019.

Refract takes place October 17 - 20 — mark off your calendar and check out their website to see the other events taking place that weekend. 

Follow us on Instagram for information about upcoming classes, events, exciting collaborations, and artist highlights. Questions? Send us an email.