Travelling the world participating in internships and workshops is the cornerstone of Sofia Villamarin’s glass experience. Her unique personal works in stained glass utilize three-dimensionality, fragmented imagery and her stunning painting abilities to express stories and reflections of self as well as her unique perspective on life.
Of Argentinian and Italian nationality, Villamarin was born in 1979 and lived in Argentina until she was 28 years old. In 2003, she graduated with a degree in Visual Communication Design, but the following year began her education in stained glass art. Awarded a scholarship to study glass painting, in 2008 Villamarin travelled to the studio of Italian artist Sante Pizzol in Milan, Italy. She also attended Vetroricerca Glas & Modern in Bolzano, Italy, garnering a more comprehensive education in glass.
Villamarin established and ran her own studio in Argentina from 2011 to 2015. The following year she went to work for The Cathedral Studios, the stained glass studio at Canterbury Cathedral, UK, followed by a stint at Barley Studio in York. Currently living in Munich, Germany, and working for Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt” GmbH, Villamarin focuses on portraiture painting on stained glass windows.
With a unique and international perspective on stained glass, Villamarin has been recognized by The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning New York, in its publication of cutting-edge glass, New Glass Review 33. She is also the recipient of last year’s Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass for her work My Fragments, accompanied by an exhibition at Veste Coburg and at the European Museum of Modern Glass, Rödental, Germany. Focusing on new trends in glass art, the works of 90 international artists were on display at these venues in 2022. The highly topical objects and variety of production techniques made this show a fascinating event in the International Year of Glass.
A 2016 recipient of the Stevens Glass Artist of the Year award, Villamarin was honored, along with other students and emerging architectural glass artists, at a ceremony at Glaziers’ Hall. From a record number of high-quality entries from the UK and other international entrants, Villamarin was presented with the opportunity to design a window commemorating the lost crew of the iconic Titanic for St Mary’s Church, Southampton.
With uniquely personal works such as her painted self-portraits Time Without Time I and II; Resilience – made with glass, enamels and rope; or the many works that break free of the single flat plane of stained glass as seen in Free, Villamarin has left her mark on the world of modern stained glass. Having participated in the American Congress’ Women in Glass conference, the artist lends her voice to the independent work she designs and fabricates as well as to the work she paints for Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt” GmbH.
Charlene Foster a.k.a. Cha Cha Chainz represents the gold standard in glass chain making. A pioneer of the trend, she has been perfecting the art of flawless and seamless links since 2002. Foster has collaborated with the best in the game, building a bridge between fine art, fashion and functional glass. Her work has been featured in numerous fashion publications as she artfully merges the world of bespoke high fashion and cannabis accessories.
Born on an Air Force base in the Philippines and raised in Alaska, Foster attended the University of Alaska Anchorage studying Fine Art and Psychology. She worked for a glass artist in Anchorage whose assistant Courtney Brahnam introduced Foster to the summer session catalogs for Pilchuck, Penland and The Corning Museum of Glass. After applying and getting accepted to all three schools, Foster left home to travel the country, eventually settling in New York City in 2002. There, she began working for Michael Davis Glass on the production crew for a line of Tiffany & Company vases. Later, the artist assisted James McLeod during his fellowship at Wheaton Village, which led to her assisting a number of other instructors and eventually teaching her own class at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn. Her work was represented at SOFA New York and Chicago from 2007 to 2011 by UrbanGlass.
Over the years, Foster’s work has been featured in galleries and museums nationwide. Her glass chains have been auctioned at the National Liberty Museum, The UrbanGlass Blower’s Ball, Wheaton Arts and The Michigan Glass Project. She has collaborated with high-end pipe artists including Banjo, Salt, Rocko, Ryan Fitt and Robert Mickelson. Recent exhibitions include: 2022, Cleod Glass + Works, Charleston, SC; 2022, Pendants in Pink, Naturals Collective, Leominster, MA; 2020, Spring Equinox Show, Lifted Veil Gallery, DTLA, CA; 2019, “Garden of Eden” Zen Glass Gallery, Saint Petersburg, FL; and 2019, Molten Aura Show, Level 42, Asheville, NC.
Now based in North Carolina, Foster focuses on creating collaborative glass pieces, custom jewelry and glass joint holders she calls Stellaz for a wide range of shops across the country, and direct to customers through her website, http://www.chachachainz.com/