Toots Zynsky, known for her distinctive heat-formed filet de verre (glass thread) vessels, has been selected as the first of two Specialty Glass Artists-in-Residence for 2016.
The residency is a joint program of the Corning Museum of Glass and Corning Incorporated that supports artists in exploring the use of specialty glass materials to inform their body of work. Zynsky is the third specialty glass resident, following metal sculptor, Albert Paley from 2014-2015, and glass artist, Tom Patti in 2015.
Zynsky, who has worked with glass since her time at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the early 1970s, has gained widespread popularity and acclaim for her intricate filet de verre vessels. She was the 2015 recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s Visionary Award.
Zynsky has always been inspired by music, which for her, translates to color. As such, her vessels are unique explorations of color that defy categorization and weave together traditions of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts.
Zynsky has spent her career focusing on the study and manipulation of colored glass through the vehicle of these distinctive, undulating forms. Continually evolving, her work is a formal exploration in color and composition that has no end.
“Through the Specialty Glass Residency, artists, designers, and scientists are able to push the boundaries of glass as a medium, challenging and manipulating it in new ways, ultimately leading to a better understanding of this endlessly versatile material,” said Karol Wight, president and executive director of The Corning Museum of Glass. “As a pioneer of the Studio Glass movement, Toots Zynsky’s life’s work has revolved around experimentation and discovery.”
During Zynsky’s residency, Corning Incorporated, which has developed and patented more than 150 specialty glass formulations, will provide her with access to specialty glass, as well as staff with technical expertise in glass formulation, melting, and forming. The Museum will provide access to its extensive resources, including its glassmaking facilities and collection.
“Toots’ vision of innovation through art will be a great add to our Research Center at Sullivan Park,” said Dr. David Morse, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Corning Incorporated. “Utilizing her creativity, diversity, and global experience as an artist—it will be exciting to see what kind of pieces she can create.”
Zynsky has worked with The Corning Museum of Glass before, receiving one of the first Rakow Commissions, an annual award given to artists not yet represented in the Museum’s collection. In 1988, she created Pajaritos en la Cabeza and Cabellos de Angel (“Tierra del Fuego” Series) for the Museum.
During her Specialty Glass Residency this winter, Zynsky will work extensively at Corning Incorporated’s research facility Sullivan Park. She will also be the featured artist at the Museum’s popular 2300° program from 6-8 p.m. on March 17, where she will work in the recently-added Amphitheater Hot Shop, which seats 500 people. The event is free and open to the public.
“I am approaching this residency with great curiosity and a wide open mind as to the new possibilities I am about to encounter upon my first visit with the scientists and engineers I will be collaborating with at Corning in the specialty glass research center,” said Zynsky. “As I learn more, I am sure it will ignite new ideas and experimentation for my work.”