Celebrated for her innovative, colorful blown glass and flameworked Amulet Baskets, Laura Donefer is also known for artwork that pushes boundaries by exploring memory, assault, bereavement, joy and madness. The artist has been using glass as the primary medium in her work for over 38 years, all while teaching, producing unforgettable glass fashions shows and promoting the glass arts worldwide.
Born in Ithaca, New York, but raised in rural Quebec, Donefer studied sculpture for a year in 1973 at the National Art School of Cubanacan in Havana. Back in Canada, in 1975 she graduated with honors in Literature and Languages from Dawson College and in 1979 with honors from McGill University, both located in Montreal, Quebec. After traveling the world and working with many interesting people, Donefer trained as a glass artist at Sheridan College, Ontario, graduating in 1985.
A tireless promoter, Donefer lectured extensively on Canadian contemporary glass in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Australia, including the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C.; the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona; the University of Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii; and during AUSGLASS in Sydney, Australia. She curated a number of exhibitions in the United States to showcase Canadian work. In 1985, as president of the Glass Art Association of Canada (GAAC), Donefer was instrumental in uniting glass artists across Canada by publishing a quarterly magazine, The Glass Gazette, which developed into the major voice of Canadian glass artists. In 2006, GAAC awarded Donefer its first Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her tireless efforts in the advancement of art glass in Canada.
By conducting countless workshops worldwide, Donefer has influenced students from Red Deer College, Alberta, to Penland School of Crafts, Bakersfield, North Carolina, to the Sonoran School, Tucson, Arizona; and beyond in Japan and Australia. She served on the staff in the glass department at Sheridan College and was permanent faculty at Espace Verre, Montreal, for over 18 years, helping to mold the school with her dynamic classes. She continues to teach regularly at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, and at the Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, where she has served on the International Council for 17 years.
Since the mid-1980s, Donefer’s work has been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions, including shows at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Japan; the Art Gallery of Western Australia; the Hammelev Arts and Culture Centre in Denmark; the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston; the Museo del Vidrio in Mexico; and the Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai, China. Her sculpture is included in many public and private collections, including the Corning Museum of Glass; the Tacoma Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington; the Museum of Art and Design, Manhattan; Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida; Barry Art Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan; and the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio. She is currently represented by Habatat Gallery and Sandra Ainsley Gallery.
A past board member of the Glass Art Society (GAS), in 2008 the organization presented Donefer with its prestigious Honorary Membership Award. Donefer has produced 15 of her unforgettable glass fashion shows, many for the organization. In 2018, her ground-breaking event included 33 glass costumes in 12 gondolas gliding through the canals in Murano, Italy. Her next glass fashion show is slated for GAS 2022. Donefer has also been awarded The Lifetime Achievement Award from Craft Ontario; the International Flameworking Award for “extraordinary contributions to the glass art world”; and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass award for her role in the glass community.
On hiatus due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Donefer spends her days near Harrowsmith, Ontario, with her amazing husband “The Mighty Dave” and her dachshund Mr. Lance. She has become a mushroom detective, searching for and photographing these living sculptures and their unique forms and colors while exploring a new body of Covid Anxiety paintings. Donefer’s collaboration with glassblower extraordinaire Jeff Mack is currently on view in a ground-breaking exhibition curated by Tina Oldknow and Bill Warmus, Venice and American Studio Glass, at Le Stanze del Vetro Museum in Venice.