Fired Up About Glass
Women Artists Find Their Artistic Style in This Magical Medium
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Photo by Scott Holstein
Cheryl Sattler polishes a piece of art glass in her studio.
All that glitters isn’t gold — but it just might be glass, which frequently contains metal to give it color. Intense heat magically transforms sand, lime and soda ash into the sparkling translucence we call glass. Add a pinch of gold oxide to the pot and you get cranberry glass; cobalt oxide, brilliant blue; and iron oxides, green and brown.
Enchanted by the magic of the medium, a group of Tallahassee artists are earning national recognition for their work. Sarah Coakley, Terrie Corbett, Susan Frisbee, Jaye Houle, Lesley Nolan, Cheryl Sattler and Kathy Wilcox are among those who ventured into a field once dominated by men. Each artist developed her own style and techniques using the highly versatile medium.
“I’m blown away by the talent and quality of work produced by glass artists in this area,” says Ann Kozeliski, executive director of the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts. “You can really see the progress they have made over the years.” She is impressed by the time and money they invested to develop their skills. “You have to be involved down to the cellular level to work with glass.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement. Prior to the early 1960s, glass was made only in large-scale industrial settings. American studio glass differs from factory glass because an individual artist creates the piece. Both Lesley Nolan and Terrie Corbett were invited to participate in an exhibit to celebrate the movement’s anniversary at the renowned Bender Gallery in Asheville, N.C.
“Lesley and Terrie have galleries outside the state, which speaks to the quality of their work,” says Dr. Viki Wylder, curator of education at the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts.
Cheryl Sattler specializes in fused glass expressing the two distinct themes of freedom and family ties, and the inevitable tension between the two. “I make glass that people feel compelled to touch,” she says. “I love that. Go ahead — break the rules.”
A distinctive feature of her work is the combination of colorful glass crushed to varying degrees and then formed back together. Where Lesley’s pieces tend to fuse together neat geometric shapes into a larger tidy pattern, Cheryl’s art seems to celebrate disorder and rule breaking.
With an art degree from FSU, Cheryl tried weaving, pottery, painting and basket weaving before she finally took a class in glass. “It was love at first sight,” she says. “The beauty of glass is that it’s a liquid. I try to catch the light and capture the fluidity.”
Cheryl is putting together a 2014 show for Gadsden Art Center called “10,000 Hours,” the amount of time “Outliers” author Malcolm Gladwell says it takes to become proficient in any area and push it further than it has ever gone before. When people ask how long it took her to make a piece, she tells them, “All my life.” The skill and imagination in any piece are cumulative.
Her 2,500 square foot studio in Quincy is called “Imagine That!”