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Sylvia Nicolas

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Release Date: 09/16/2021

Between Us: John Littleton and Kate Vogel’s Contributions to Glass show art Between Us: John Littleton and Kate Vogel’s Contributions to Glass

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Well-known early on for their signature blown glass Bags, the subsequent cast glass work of John Littleton and Kate Vogel provided a new outlet for complex contemplations, questions and reflections. In this dramatic departure from their lighthearted Bags, faces and hands are used in various poses and combinations to explore states of mind, relationships, and even spiritual themes.

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Robin Grebe show art Robin Grebe

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Inspired by Cycladic fertility icons, early Byzantine paintings, and folk art, Robin Grebe’s figures serve as a canvas or setting for her narratives. Using birds and plants as metaphors for mythic flight, spirituality, the intangible, and nature’s uncontrollable forces, Grebe transforms her personal search into a shared exploration.

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Joshua Opdenaker aka JOP! show art Joshua Opdenaker aka JOP!

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

The first in Philly’s Fishtown area to make a name for himself in the field, today there are at least five glass studios and 18 glassblowers on Opdenaker’s street alone. From group builds such as those of the Molten Art Classic to individual skill-building works such as goblets, JOP! glass’ pioneering spirit continues evolving with the scene.

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Sylvia Nicolas show art Sylvia Nicolas

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

One of the leading ecclesiastical artists in the United States, Sylvia Nicolas is a member of an illustrious and prolific stained glass family. She is the fourth of five generations specializing in the liturgical arts and the daughter of Joep and Suzanne Nicolas, both famous artists who immigrated from the Netherlands to the U.S. in 1939 to escape the rising tide of Nazism. Joep Nicolas was sometimes referred to as “the Father of Modern Stained Glass.”

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Crista Van Slyck-Matteson show art Crista Van Slyck-Matteson

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Crista Van Slyck-Matteson’s multi-media art speaks of her love for wild spaces and deep connection to the Pacific Northwest. An accomplished sculptor, she allows her finely-honed intuition to guide spontaneous sculpting of natural world observations. Matteson’s work also utilizes technical mold-making skills to create exact replicas of found botanical forms. She combines these skills to create magical-realist sculptures.

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Jason McDonald: Investigating Identity, Racism and Representation show art Jason McDonald: Investigating Identity, Racism and Representation

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

In his current work, glassblower Jason McDonald tells important stories about social inequality through his intentionally made, well-crafted objects. His successful interweaving of those two trajectories continues to evolve through life-changing experiences such as his participation on the popular Netflix competition series Blown Away 2 and his recent week-long Murano, Italy, study with Maestro Davide Fuin as the recipient of the Windgate-Lamar Fellowship.

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Scott Ouderkirk: From Autonomous Panels to Wooden Boats show art Scott Ouderkirk: From Autonomous Panels to Wooden Boats

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

In this ToYG interview, Captain Scott Ouderkirk discusses his successful combination of fusing and stained glass in autonomous panels, unique marketing ideas and suggestions for stained glass artists, thoughts on the creative process regardless of genre, and his love of wooden boats and boating.

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Susan Taylor Glasgow show art Susan Taylor Glasgow

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Susan Taylor Glasgow’s work embraces feminine ideals of sensuality in a seductive but unforgiving material, offering conflicting messages of comfort and expectation. Some of her sculpture pays tribute to the era of June Cleaver and Betty Crocker via images appropriated from the world of ‘50s and ‘60s television and advertising.

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Remembering Benjamin Moore show art Remembering Benjamin Moore

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Seattle glass art legend Benjamin Moore died on June 25, 2021. A seminal figure in establishing Seattle as a contemporary glass center, Moore provided his studio and top-notch glassblowing team to make the work of the world’s finest artists and designers.

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Mark Peiser show art Mark Peiser

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Since 1967 when Mark Peiser became involved with the Studio Glass Movement, he has been recognized for his uniquely individualized approaches and accomplishments in glass. Continual investigation of the expressive implications of glass properties and processes has led to his distinctive bodies of work. Recently Peiser published the book, Thirty-Eight Pieces of Glass – with Related Thoughts, pairing his glass with brief writings of resonance.

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One of the leading ecclesiastical artists in the United States, Sylvia Nicolas is a member of an illustrious and prolific stained glass family. She is the fourth of five generations specializing in the liturgical arts and the daughter of Joep and Suzanne Nicolas, both famous artists who immigrated from the Netherlands to the U.S. in 1939 to escape the rising tide of Nazism. Joep Nicolas was sometimes referred to as “the Father of Modern Stained Glass.”

In 1996, Sylvia Nicolas completed 13 windows for the Basilica of St. Pancratius in Tubbergen, the Netherlands, for the Four Generations Foundation, which contains windows made by her great grandfather (Frans Nicolas, 1826-1894), grandfather (Charles Nicolas, 1859-1933) , father (Joep Nicolas, 1897-1972) and cousin. Her son and fifth generation Nicolas, Diego Semprun Nicolas, created the remaining 10 windows in 2002, finalizing this unprecedented multigenerational project. 

As a young artist, Nicolas was interested in costume design. She attended the Lycée Francais and the Dalton School in New York, the German Institute in Rome, and the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques and Académie de la Grande Chaumière, both in Paris. She studied with Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo and Ossip Zadkine, French-Russian artist known for his figurative-Cubist sculptures. Throughout her career, Nicolas has designed costumes and sets for ballet productions in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Paris, France, and Manchester, New Hampshire.

From her studio in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, Nicolas has created commissions for monasteries, churches, hospitals, government buildings and public spaces. A few of her most successful stained glass projects include 10 windows for the Church of the Annunciation, Washington, D.C.; two large windows for St. Mary’s Chancery, Wichita, Kansas; 24 windows on the life of St. Benedict for the refectory of St. Anselm Abbey, Manchester, New Hampshire; 23 windows for Saints Philip and James Church in St. James (Long Island), New York; 47 windows for St. Dominic Chapel, Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island; and 19 windows for St. John’s University, Queens, New York. 

In addition to her work in stained glass, Nicolas is skilled in a wide range of other media including oil, pen, conte, sculpture, mosaic and mosaic garden sculpture, concrete relief and painted tiles. Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, is home to three of her bronze sculptures and a large mosaic in the sanctuary chapel.

The recipient of The 2019 Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Governor’s Art Award and the 2012 Barnes Lifetime Achievement Award, Nicolas is currently the focus of a Virginia Raguin essay to be published in an upcoming book about Franz Schroeder. Raguin is also working on a video interview of Nicolas for the American Glass Guild, an organization for which Nicolas serves as Senior Advisor.

In this conversation with Nicolas, the 93-year-old artist discusses recent windows created for St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Charlottesville, Virginia. She also reveals the secrets to her painting process, whether stained glass is an art or craft, and the importance of iconography and mythology in her work.

No matter the medium, Nicolas expresses the humanity of her subjects. Her focus on people, mingled with talent in a variety of media, allows her to produce art both delicate and evocative. “Foremost it is people I am concerned with, in whatever context. I’m a storyteller, really.”