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Artist of the Month
June 2011

Artist of the Month

Shayna Leib

Shayna Leib continues to reach new heights in her multi-faceted career as an artist and teacher. She takes aquatic life forms as her primary focus of inspiration for her colorful and evocative art works. Shayna has an intelligent sense of design, immense skill and a deep understanding of glass. She creates works that are unique, thoughtful and exude exquisite beauty. Shayna is represented by Echt Gallery.

Click on each photo to the right for full picture.


Shayna Leib

Artist of the Month

Artist Statement:

Best known for her Wind and Water Series, Shayna explains:

Two of the most powerful elements on our planet are nearly indiscernible to the human eye, yet we are innately aware of their presence, their capacity to soothe and destroy, and their ability to weave patterns where they touch. Wind and water possess no intrinsic color, are clear to the point of invisibility, and yet move through space. We see not their form itself, but can detect their patterns and shapes only vicariously though the objects they effect. The trace of water’s touch over moss and sea life, the wind’s passage over marshlands, through wheat fields and the fur of a long-haired animal -- these two forces make their presence known. Their character is contradictory and fickle, encompassing fragility and violence, placidity and turbulence. 

They leave their mark upon us and our external world. We have discovered some of their patterns and named them, giving them character and life: Kuroshio, Leeuwin, Sirocco, Charybdis, Boreas, Agulhas, the Nor’easters. I present to you the Wind & Water series.

I often get asked how I create the sculptures in the Wind & Water series. It is a very lengthy and time-consuming process that utilizes many aspects of glassworking starting from the raw creation of the individual glass pieces in the hotshop to the “warm” process of slumping the glass in the kiln, followed by the assembly of the final sculpture.

Hot Process:
Each sculpture in the Wind & Water series begins with the act of generating cane. A technique originally used by the Venetians, cane is created by layering colorants in between gathers of clear glass and stretching the molten glass into long rods until a diameter of between 3 & 20 mm is achieved. Cane pulling is often compared generating taffy candy.

Most of the cane I create consists of using a transparent colorant over an opaque colorant for greater depth and saturation. Each cane pull yields approximately 50 feet of glass, of which 30 feet is neither too thick nor too thin. Each sculpture requires between 8 (6” x 6”) and 200 (30” x 30”) cane pulls.

Warm Process:
After a supply of colored cane is generated, the warm-working process begins. To create the wavy patterns in the glass, the cane needs to be curvy, instead of straight (which the process yields). The rods of cane are placed in the kiln, over metal molds, and brought up to temperatures around 1200 degrees until they assume the form of the mold itself.

Cold Process:
The cane is then cut into tens of thousands of individual pieces, which are sorted according to shape and length. One-by-one the cane is hand placed into a frame to evoke movement. The process is conducive to only working 2 square inches at a time, from one corner, to the others. It takes approximately 45 minutes to complete 2 square inches of the three-dimensional canvas.

About Shayna Leib

When Shayna Leib was seven years old, she saw glassblowing for the first time at a local university. "I haven't been the same since," she says.

Shayna began her study of glass as an undergraduate at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California where she received a BA in philosophy and minors in glass and literature. Accepted to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy at SUNY Binghamton, she chose instead to study glass at the graduate level and move to Madison, Wisconsin, where she completed a master of fine arts degree in May of 2003.

Shayna's work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has included exploration into the vessel and sculptural object. She uses glass, not for its mimetic quality to capture the look of stone or plastic, but for its most unique properties; the inclination to flow, the capacity to freeze a moment in time, and its ability to manipulate optics.

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Acknowledgment of Gallery:
We are grateful to Echt Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, for providing the materials for the Artist of the Month.

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The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to further the development and appreciation of art made from glass.

The Alliance informs collectors, critics and curators by encouraging and supporting museum exhibitions, university glass departments and specialized teaching programs, regional collector groups, visits to private collections, and public seminars.