Shaping a lifestyle out of glass

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Wil Sideman, an MFA candidate in the School for American Crafts, forms a piece of glass in the hot shop.

Growing up on a family farm in Greene, Maine, Wil Sideman used his hands a lot to pick the produce, mainly strawberries.

Hand skills are just as important to Sideman today as he pursues his Master of Fine Arts degree in glass in the School for American Crafts, which opened more than 60 years ago.

“People of my generation don’t really have an interest in using their hands,” says Sideman, one of 12 students in the glass graduate program. “There is a loss of handmade work, but learning hand skills is important to my craft.”

Art was a subject that held Sideman’s interest as he tried to figure out what to do after high school. Following graduation, he attended the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 3-D Design and Fine Art.

During his time as an undergraduate, the RIT name kept popping up.

“I heard a lot about RIT because of the professors’ reputations. Any undergraduate student in the country interested in glass knows the names of Michael Rogers and Robin Cass. The glass community is small and RIT has a giant footprint in the community. It’s been wonderful getting to work side by side with Michael and Robin.”

Each year, the School for American Crafts brings in visiting artists from all over the world. The school’s areas of focus are glass, metals, wood and ceramics.

“Our professors do a fantastic job exposing students to all different mediums. Bringing in these renowned artists allows us to have an intimate interaction with them. We get a lot of feedback on our work.”

Sideman’s work focuses on glass sculpture and 3-D pieces made of mixed materials like glass, steel and wood. He will graduate in spring 2013 and wants to make a difference in the lives of young people through his craft.

“I am interested in youth development. I would like to get involved with outreach programs for youth, teaching them critical thinking needed to create objects with our hands.”