Like quilts fashioned from various colors and textures of coral reef, Shayna Leib’s Wind and Watersculptures reflect the two major passions in her life - music and the ocean. Trained as a classical pianist, the artist relies upon the same part-to-whole nature of music that brings together individual notes and melodic lines in the creation of a greater composition. Growing up on the Central Coast of California, Leib became a diver and underwater photographer, further informing the direction of her art.
In a recent American Craftarticle, Fear & Fascination, Judy Arginteanu wrote:“A large wall sculpture (about 4.5 by 2 feet) might contain some 40,000 individual pieces of hand-pulled, custom-colored cane, which she then slumps, cuts, and meticulously arranges in intricate patterns, like those nature seems to create so effortlessly. It takes many weeks to produce one sculpture…With the help of one assistant, Leib does all the work in her 640-square-foot studio, a converted warehouse in the charmingly boho East Side of Madison, Wisconsin…She can spend hours on the coloring process alone, and each piece of cane has at least two colors to add shimmering depth. She can use up to six different versions of a color in a monotone landscape; for a multicolored piece, the number may be 25 or 30.”
Leib studied Russian literature, glassblowing, and classical piano while completing her Bachelors of Art degree in Philosophy at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. Accepted into a PhD Philosophy program in New York, she chose instead to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in glass and metal at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with her MFA in 2003. Working as a metal fabricator and forger at Pearson Design Studios in Maine, Leib reproduced the famous designs by the late Ronald Hayes Pearson for his wife, Carolyn Pearson. Upon her return to California in 2004, she taught sculpture and drawing at Cal Poly State University until her move in 2005 to teach glass at the University of Madison-Wisconsin.
Currently Leib works in a variety of mediums including ceramic, stone, metal, photography and fabric, though glass remains her focus. She prefers to use glass not for its mimetic qualities to capture the look of other materials, but for its ability to express flow, freeze a moment in time, and manipulate optics. She states: “The things I find beautiful have always been fractal in nature. I am intrigued by multitudes of tiny little parts - blades of grass all bending in the wind to the same rhythm. As you pan out you have waves of form. Zoom in and you see each individual blade of grass moving to the flow of the wind.”
Leib’s work, found in numerous private and public collections nationally, has been exhibited at SOFA Chicago and New York for the last decade. She is represented by Habatat Galleries Florida in West Palm Beach, showcased in museums, worldwide blogs, and magazines, and featured on the pages of Contemporary Lampworking, The Best of American Glass Artists Volume L-Z, and A História Do Vidro(A History of Glass).Leibwas recognized as a 2010 Wisconsin Arts Board Grant Recipient, nominated in 2011 for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and in2015 listed as one of the 30 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive.