Toots Zynsky’s heat-formed filet-de-verre vessels, acclaimed for their remarkable exploration of color and form, interweave the traditions of painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. By co-inventing a thread-pulling machine that uses electronic software to create glass thread, Zynsky made possible her rhythmic, gracefully spiraling shapes that defy their own fragility. Her signature work reflects a similar strong and beautiful image to that of its maker.
Mary Ann “Toots” Zynsky, born in 1951 and raised in Massachusetts, received her BFA in 1973 at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence. There, as one of a group of pioneering artists studying with Dale Chihuly, she helped make studio glass a worldwide phenomenon and assisted in founding Pilchuck Glass School. From 1980 to 1983, Zynsky was key in the rebuilding and development of the second New York Experimental Glass Workshop (NYEGW), now UrbanGlass. While living in Europe in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, Zynsky collaborated with Mathijs Teunissen Van Manen to create a glass thread-pulling machine. It was during these years that she developed her filet-de-verre technique and took the art world by storm with her uniquely stunning sculptures.
Among numerous awards, Zynsky has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants and the Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2006. With work represented in more than 70 museum collections around the world, the artist was presented with the 2015 Visionary Award by the Smithsonian Institution.Making the announcement, co-chair of the event Susan Labovich, said: “Toots Zynsky’s work epitomizes greatness in her field. Her glass sculptural pieces, which are found in major museums around the world, demonstrate creativity, vision, and innovation, which are the founding criteria for the Visionary Award. Her work is the finest of American studio glass.” Zynsky was also characterized as "one of the few women of her generation to break the glass ceiling."