Residencies at The Studio

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Biography: Toots Zynsky

Toots Zynsky
Toots Zynsky

During a college visit to the Rhode Island School of Design, Toots Zynsky was entranced by the collaboration of glassmakers moving in a concert-like form. And so she was drawn to glass as a medium to explore her love of dance and music. Her work still often coincides with her fascination of sound and movement, as music translates to visual color for her. Utilizing this natural gift, she uses glass thread to illustrate her experiences and emotions in her art.

After assisting Dale Chihuly in the founding and early development of the Pilchuck Glass School, Zynsky earned her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1973. From 1980 to 1983, she was a key participant in the rebuilding and development of the second New York Experimental Glass Workshop, now UrbanGlass.

While living in Europe in the late 1980s and 1990s, Zynsky collaborated to create a glass thread-pulling machine. During these years, she developed her unique filet de verre technique, which is layering thousands of pieces of glass thread on top of each other to create complex form and color gradient throughout her pieces.

Among other awards, she has been a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants and the Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2006. Zynsky’s work is represented in more than 70 museum collections around the world. In the words of Tina Oldknow, former senior curator of modern and contemporary glass at the Museum: “She is one of a small, core group of pioneering artists who made contemporary glass a worldwide phenomenon, and her distinctive kiln-formed vessels enjoy widespread popularity for their often magnificent, and always unique, explorations in color.”

In 2016, Zynsky was selected as the third artist for the Specialty Glass Residency program at The Corning Museum of Glass and Corning Incorporated. During her year-long residency, Zynsky worked extensively at Corning Incorporated’s research facility Sullivan Park experimenting with fusing, stretching, slumping, and cracking two types of transparent hard glass.