An artist with 33 years of experience working in stained glass, NancyNicholson combines fine art sensibility with seasoned craftsmanship. Using Boston and New York City architecture as a backdrop of inspiration, in 1989 the artist introduced a successful series of autonomous panels that explored the layering of light, color, and dynamic forms of the urban environment.
Eventually, the cityscape imagery and techniques Nicholson had mastered felt less compelling, signaling a need for change. But before those cues could be acted upon, routine knee surgery followed by back issues left the artist unable to walk for several months, much less work in the glass studio. During recuperation, life sized drawings of her body suspended in space replaced the physical work of glass.
Upon full recovery, when Nicholson returned to the glass studio, she found her psychic landscape altered. The meditation on her body and its aging process, instigated by her injury, retained its urgency. Simultaneously, the cityscapes felt increasingly remote and impersonal, as the drawings made during her convalescence took on more gravitas.
In contrast to our youth-centric culture, which tries to deny or disguise the effects of aging, Nicholson began to bravely explore existential questions about the topic, fueling a new body of work. Focused studies of her body capture energy and movement. Figures are handcarved, sandblasted, painted, and stained on glass to exploit the fragility and transparency of the material while enhancing the elusive qualities of gesture and emotion.
Navigating this artistic metamorphosis for five years now, Nicholson says: “While the impetus for that transition was a physical disability that brought my glass production to a dead stop, the need to change directions was already building. Now, with the figure drawings informing my glasswork, I am working in a way that is far more personal and important to me.”
From the island of Murano, Italy, Davide Penso attempts to capture the look of water in motion through his anemone beads and more recently his flowing and elegant Seaweed sculptures. Surrounded by breathtaking lagoons inspiration surrounds him, and conversations with glass seem as infinite as the surrounding bayou. “Glass follows its own time. Sometimes we fight a little bit. I have the sense of color and design, and the glass uses me to be more beautiful.”
Born in 1965 in Venice, Penso grew up and established his studio onMurano, renowned for its long tradition of glassmaking. Beginning his career as a still life photographer, the artist turned to glass in 1992 and opened his atelier known for glass jewelry reflecting a contemporary and innovative style.
The success of Penso’s work is reflected in numerous international group and solo exhibitions at prestigious venues such as Saint Mark’s Civic Museums Correr, Fortuny, and the Guggenheim, in Venice, Italy; the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), Corning, New York; St .Petersburg Glass Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; and the Glass Art Museum of Okabe, Japan. The artist has collaborated on jewelry projects with illustrious names such as Venini, Giorgio Vigna, Nason & Moretti, and Pelikan, and made a name for himself in high fashion designing collections for major brands.
In 2001, Penso began teaching lampworking and jewelry design, collaborating with Abate Zanetti School of Glass in Murano. An invitation in 2007 to lecture at Boston University School of Visual Art led to subsequent teaching stints at CMOG; the Glass Furnace in Istanbul, Turkey; and Nuutajärvi Glass Village, Nuutajärvi, Finland. Special guest appearances include the 2017 Gathering, sponsored by the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB), and the upcoming 2019 Festival of Glass, Drysdale Australia. His 2018 teaching schedule includes Master the Art of Blown Glass Beads at Blue Moon Glassworks, Austin, Texas, October 4 – 5 and at Patty Lakinsmith, San Jose, California, October 13 – 14.
Although bead making and jewelry continue as mainstays of Penso’s creative production, his current Seaweed sculptures challenge the artist to work larger on the torch. A recent outdoor sculpture measured over 3 meters and included more than 70 blown pieces. Visitors from around the world stop to take photos and marvel at the work, inspiring Penso to move in a more sculptural direction with his ideas.