Posted October 23, 2012

Tyler School of Art's Glass Program receives $1 million gift from Irvin Borowsky and Laurie Wagman

Glass studio gets new name, students get new visiting artists program

  • Irvin J. Borowsky and Laurie Wagman in their Philadelphia home. (Joseph V. Labolito)

Temple University's Center for the Arts has announced that the Glass Program at the Tyler School of Art has received a gift totaling more than $1 million to promote the study and creation of glass art from noted Philadelphia philanthropists and art collectors Irvin J. Borowsky and Laurie Wagman. 

To honor the gift, one of the largest known given to a college glass program, Tyler's glass facility will be named the Irvin Borowsky Glass Studio. The donation also will support a visiting artists program called the Laurie Wagman Fund in Glass Art. In addition, Borowsky and Wagman are giving Tyler three works from their renowned collection of glass art. The studio's new name will make its official debut at a dedication ceremony on Nov. 9, 2012.

"This is an historic gift for Temple's Center for the Arts, the Tyler School of Art and its Glass Program," said Robert T. Stroker, dean of the Center for the Arts and vice provost of the arts. "Irv Borowsky and Laurie Wagman are visionaries. Once again, they have found a way to make a profound difference in the world of glass art. Their generosity will impact generations of future student artists."

Associate Professor Sharyn O'Mara, head of Tyler's Glass Program, underscored the importance of the visiting artists program supported by the Laurie Wagman Fund in Glass Art.

"The Visiting Artists Program is an incredible gift to our students and our program," O'Mara said. "This gives us the opportunity to bring internationally renowned artists to Tyler to share their experience and their work, and to inspire a new generation of glass artists." 

Borowsky and Wagman, married since 1979, are both native Philadelphians. Borowsky is an innovator in publishing and printing. He launched the weekly television magazine that would become TV Guide and founded the North American Publishing Company. As a philanthropist, he is known for his support of interfaith initiatives and for founding the National Liberty Museum in 2000. Wagman is the founder and chair of the American Theater Arts for Youth, Inc., the educational organization created in 1970 that presents professional theater to school students nationwide as an extension of classroom curriculum.

Highly regarded as arts patrons and art collectors, Borowsky and Wagman are donating three distinguished works that represent critical developments in the American studio glass movement to Tyler from their private collection: "The Artist at Work" by Dan Dailey, "Overlay Series" by Harvey Littleton and "Artifact Still Life" by William Morris.

The Tyler School of Art's BFA and MFA programs — now universally recognized as among the nation's finest nearly 40 years after Professor Emeritus Jon Clark established glass as a major at Tyler — are located in a new, 10,000-square-foot facility on Temple's Main Campus in Philadelphia. The Glass Program's state-of-the-art facilities (both in terms of creative resources and safety) include a hot shop for blowing and hot casting, a flame-working studio, a cold shop, a kiln room, a majors studio, a critique/installation room and private graduate studios.

Among the program's many noted graduates are award-winning glass artist Beth Lipman BFA '95; Ruth King BFA '81, artistic director of the Pilchuck Glass School; Amber Cowan MFA '11, who recently appeared on the cover of Glass Line magazine; and Jack Wax BFA '78, professor and head of the glass program at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts.