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Artist of the Month - September 2006

A Glass Act
By Annabelle Numaguchi

Glynda MarcusMost art media clearly exist in either the second or third dimensions. A painting generally lays flat and sculpture has infinite points from which it can, and should, be viewed.

One of the most interesting facets of stained glass art is that it many facets. First, there’s no right side since both the back and front are meant to be viewed.

And though most pieces are two dimensional, they are intended to allow light to pass through them. So, to fully contemplate the effect of a piece of stained glass, you have to consider this third dimension.

Unlike paint, whose colors remain the same despite varying hues in different light, glass is translucent and its color changes dramatically depending on what lies behind it.

Assembling a work of stained glass is like piecing a puzzle together, but an accomplished artist must also figure in this translucence and how to play it to the advantage of the work of art.

An excellent example of this is a luminous sunset depicted in a window designed and created by Glynda Marcus, a local stained glass artist. Marcus used vividly colored glass, such as azure, crimson and amber to depict a sun emitting undulating rays partially obscured by the horizon.

Depending on the time of day, the weather and the season, the colors of the transom change from brilliant to mute. The reflection the window creates on opposing walls or the floor becomes a complementary aspect of the work. Essentially, the sunset is a performance piece, always presenting a new perspective of the same image. It’s a glass act.

Although Marcus’ degree is in the humanities, not in the fine arts, she has experience and talent. Over the last few decades, she has created art through photography, sculpture and pottery. Having always harbored an interest in glass, she took a couple of courses to teach her the basics five years ago.

Marcus attributes her attraction to this particular medium to two reasons. Harkening back to her childhood when she and her mother often did jigsaw puzzles together, she enjoys, “making the pieces fit.”

The other aspect that draws her to stained glass is the study of light, which is the unifying element of so many art media. “I wanted to manipulate light,” she explains, and found that stained glass a perfect fit for her creativity.

Marcus demonstrates a mastery which goes beyond technique. Stained glass can hover on the fringe between craft and art, and it takes the spark of creativity to jettison a work into the latter category.
Marcus creates her own designs and uses the many aspects of glass, including color and texture, to manipulate the light reflected through it.

She is fond of using complementary colors, such as orange and blue or green and red, to create striking combinations. She also displays a propensity to mix textures, such as the beveled, water and clear glass used to create the “Moab Man Petroglyph.” The Anasazi figure is depicted in scarlet, representing the red rocks on which these indigenous designs are found, and it stands against a turquoise background of undulating glass, known as “water glass,” which evokes the image of a river.

Like many artists of the region, Marcus is clearly inspired by the natural beauty surrounding her and the indigenous artists preceding her. She has created vibrant depictions of Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch, and figures from Anasazi petroglyphs crop up frequently in her repertoire, including her logo.

In a piece entitled, “Shield-Dreamcatcher,” Marcus uses contrasting colors to create an arresting image out of a familiar one. The combinations of purple/yellow and turquoise/red grab the eye, and when this dreamcatcher is viewed against bright light, the colors radiate.

This work demonstrates Marcus’ competency in working with glass. She makes the viewer forget that the medium is glass. The feathers hanging from the shield look light, soft and capable of being twirled by a breeze, when in fact they are soldered shards of glass.

Marcus is equally comfortable working on small details as with large scale. She has created numerous dragonflies, twelve-pointed stars (that are truly 3-D) and candle holders. She incorporates beads and charms in many of these ornaments, which enhance the object and add a different translucence.

She mimics the look of ice crystals in one candle holder by using elongated diamond shapes cut out of clear beveled glass and piecing them together with clear textured glass. The sharp-pointed border resembles icicles.
In glass inserts Marcus created for a two-door wooden gate, she demonstrates this knack for blending textures effectively. In these large works, she assembled pieces of glass that were either beveled, rippled, or contained designs, like snowflakes, within them. Although all the glass is clear, the varying textures reflect light differently, giving the insert a complexity of shapes and shadows.

Marcus’ work is more than the sum of its parts, literally. In addition to the requisite manual labor involved in cutting the glass, grinding its edges, painstakingly wrapping them in foil, soldering them together, and finally cleaning and polishing the piece, she imbues her original stained glass pieces with artistry. Glass allows her to manipulate light and work in the realm between the second and third dimensions. Her pieces are never “finished.” Like a performance piece, these glass acts are continually changing according to the light penetrating through them and the perspective from which they are viewed.

Don’t miss the show!.Glynda Marcus will be the featured artist at Earth Spirit, starting on September 9. She can be reached at (435) 220-0162 or at

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