Blown Away is the latest hit show to come from Netflix. It is a reality tv competition that pits 10 master glassblowers against each other in a series of challenges. The ultimate winner takes home a prize worth $60K and a residency at the renowned Corning Museum of Glass.
If you have seen the show, (review here), you will have been amazed by the sheer level of skill and talent on display. But who exactly are the 10 contestants that sweat it out in the Hot Shop creating spectacular pieces for our viewing pleasure?
Blown Away Cast/Contestants
Deborah Czeresko is a New York City based artist. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, she first began her career in the New York Experimental Glass Workshop in 1987. This vastly talented woman has permanent exhibitions at the Museum of American Glass in New Jersey, the Glasmuseum Ebeltoft in Denmark and the Frauenau Glasmuseum in Germany.
Very much a forward thinker, Czeresko's work originates from personal experience influenced by the complexities of modern-day political and social ideas.
Based in Philadelphia, Alexander Rosenberg is an artist, educator, and writer. He is an internationally recognised artist with awards from the 2012 International Glass Prize, The Esther & Harvey Graitzer Memorial Prize, UArts FADF Grant, and the deFlores Humor Fund Grant (MIT).
The 36-year-old has attended prestigious residencies such as The MacDowell Colony and Urban Glass. One of his most memorable and beautiful pieces on the show was the Wardian case which is a small portable greenhouse designed in the 19th Century. It was invented to create a microclimate to transport delicate and valuable flowers like orchids from distant tropical locales back to Europe.
Kevin Kiff is a graduate from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. His time on Blown Away was been short-lived due to an unfortunate accident that saw his piece smashed to smithereens. But his work is very much on display on Instagram at thankfully most work is available for purchase.
Benjamin Kikkert is an artist and designer working in hot glass and mixed media sculpture. His studio is on Granville Island in Vancouver BC, today known as Vancouver Studio Glass.
A graduate of the Sheridan College Craft & Design Program, he is also a former resident of the Harbourfront Centre Craft & Design Studio.
Canadian glassblower, Leah Kudel‘s journey began in Saskatchewan in a home filled with an abundance of unique objects she transformed into creative materials. A graduate of Alberta College of Art and Design (2015), Kudel has now worked as an artist in various studios across the USA, New Zealand and Europe.
By her own admission, she predominantly uses sculpted glass as a material to fill the voids between people and objects.
Along with Deborah Czeresko, Janusz Pozniak is one of the more experienced glass blowers on Blown Away. He grew up in the UK and started working with glass when he was 19-years-old. he moved to the U.S.A in 1991 and has worked with some of the most prominent glass artists in the world.
As seen in the show, Pozniak's pieces are truly remarkable. he describes his work as ‘pushing the boundaries beyond form and function to abstractly reflect his own personal experiences and distill human emotion.'
Having gotten off to a rocky start with his glass whale, Patrick Primeau demonstrated some incredible talent in Blown Away. And, without sounding biased, he created some of my personal favourites as the show progressed. Born in Montreal, he enlisted in the Espace Verre technical program in 1997.
His innovative designs have earned him a place in the collection of Montreal Fine Arts Museum and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec.
K. Momoko “Momo” Schafer
One of the youngest contestants on Blown Away, Momo Schafer is just 24 years old. She graduated from MassArt with her BFA. There, she worked at Diablo Glass School, Watts Hot Glass, and received two full scholarships to Brooklyn's Urban Glass.
She is currently in her second year as an Artist-in-Residence at New Street Glass Studio. Her inspiration comes from her Japanese heritage and the fact that she spent most of her summers in Sagamihara, Japan.
Annette Sheppard use to be a professional glassblower for 12 years before changing careers five years ago. She is now a management consultant for a data science platform based in San Francisco.
Thankfully she still blows glass and teaches across the US.
Edgar Valentine was the youngest contestant on Blow Away. At just 22 years old, what he lacked in experience he made up for in creativity. He was also the first to finish every task!
Born in Tacoma, he started blowing glass when he was just 12 years old. He currently works at the Tacoma Glassblowing Studio. There, he makes his own work and teaches glassblowing classes.