In honor of Women’s History month, we are focusing on women and their extraordinary contributions to shattering the glass ceiling of the contemporary studio glass movement. Here at Imagine Museum, we live, eat and breathe contemporary glass art, but rarely do we discuss the glass ceiling of our industry.
Today & Yesteryear
When we think of the history of glassmaking, we often think of Venetian Maestros or men working in glass factories; but is this still representative of modern-day glassmakers? While there is evidence of Venetian women turning up in glass factories to make their days’ pay as bead makers and flameworkers, still, generally speaking, they were neither considered glass artists nor recognized or compensated equally to their male counterparts.
In the 1960s, the American Studio Glass Art Movement reimagined glass art as a studio based fine art rather than a factory based production. Arguably, the most compelling aspect was that women moved to the forefront of glass design, not only execution. From the movement’s inception, heavy hitters like Jaroslava Brychtova and Toots Zynsky helped shape the way women were viewed in the end-to-end production of glass… Women in glass were now female glass artists.
Women Get Things Done
In the 1980s, famed glass artist Dale Chihuly invited Jaroslava Brychtova and husband Stanislav Libansky to the US to teach American artists how to work with glass casting. Brychtova, a Czech Master Glass Artist, was fearless in that she began working with glass in the 1950s – a time when women in the workforce, let alone in artist studios, was virtually unheard of, coupled with the fact that she came from an Iron Curtain Country. She was creating groundbreaking pieces with virtually no knowledge of the global art world, modern glassmaking techniques, or creative influences beyond her own.
As Brychtova and Libensky worked in partnership, it was Brychtova who would physically create the massive molds used for casting by way of Libensky’s renderings. Without Brychtova’s mechanical and technical genius, we can boldly assume that, alone, Libensky wouldn’t have had the prowess to materialize his ambitious concepts.
We are deeply moved by her vision and perseverance to getting things done, and paving the way for future generations of glass artists, regardless of their gender.
Great Art has No Gender
So what is good art? Well, art is entirely subjective, but one can say that the success of a piece lies in whether or not a piece can say something… and men are not the only artists capable of saying things. In our extensive collection of Studio Glass, pieces like Ann Wolff’s Andante, Kate Vogel’s Succulent, Toots Zynsky’s Tempesto, Jaroslava Brychtova’s Through The Cone, and, Kimiake Higuchi’s From the Garden: Shovel, all scream love, passion, power, and perseverance. It humbles us greatly to reflect upon the sacrifices these women made in their personal lives to pursue a hope and a dream.
Reflections in Glass
It is our hope that today and always, the global glass community may continue to be inspired by all of the women past and present who continue to shape the way we view glass– the material of woman and mankind. Until next time!
To view our collection of women in glass → plan your visit now!