Bronagh Dempsey became interested in glass while in high school. “I attended a high school for the arts, ArtQuest at Santa Rosa High School, California. I was mostly focused on two-dimensional art, but developed an interest for the three dimensional. I took one make-your-own-class for glassblowing and I was hooked,” she said.
Her interest led her across the country to Salem Community College. “I was looking for summer class programs that involved glass and stumbled on Salem’s program. SCC was the only college I applied to and the only school I wanted to go to,” she said. “It was the best fit for me. I toured the glass center and filled out an application the same day.”
Bronagh said Salem Community College is where she found her passion for glass and was educated on the various glass-forming techniques.
The 2020 graduate in Scientific Glass Technology and Glass Art recalled her proudest moment at SCC: “A very full-circle moment for me at SCC was in my Organic Chemistry for Glassblowers class during my final semester,” Bronagh said. “I got to use my own apparatus for distillation which is such a unique opportunity and I reverted a deeper understanding of what I was making and its practical application. I was very proud of myself on that day.”
Bronagh shared that Scientific Glass Technology (SGT) Instructional Chair Bob Russell – who taught her all four semesters -- was most instrumental during her SCC years. “He would answer any questions that I had and would give me as many demonstrations as I needed to understand the apparatus I was supposed to make,” she said.
“I greatly enjoyed my time at SCC and it wasn't just the educators or the facility that made it an amazing place,” Bronagh continued. “It was the other students and the community that was formed. We bonded over our shared love of glass. That's what makes SCC so special.”
After graduating, she transferred to Alfred University where she’s pursuing her BFA in sculpture and dimensional studies with a focus on glass. “I will graduate in the spring of 2022. I am spending the summer  working for the Corning Museum of Glass as a flameworking and hot shop demonstrator,” she said.
Bronagh described how her SCC education helped prepare her for Alfred University. “Salem really gave me an advantage over my peers as I was given hands-on glass instruction from the beginning which is not typical,” she said. “Also, the hand skills I developed taking SGT classes [at SCC] are not offered anywhere else in the country and this allowed me to excel at flameworking.”
Starting in high school and continuing in college, Bronagh has had the opportunity to explore a wide range of artistic techniques and make an educated decision on pursuing the medium of glass.
Her current artistic practice revolves around the sights and sounds of nature that enable her to illustrate through the wide variety of glass-forming techniques learned during her four years as a glassblower. “I love its optical qualities and the changes that I am presented with everyday working with this medium,” she said.
Bronagh’s advice to prospective and current students at SCC: “Take advantage of the opportunity offered to you. There is no other institution in the country with their dimensions, educators, and facilities.”