Mary Shaffer, ‘Torn Red Hook’, 2012, Bellas Artes Gallery

About Mary Shaffer

A founding artist of the American Studio Glass Movement, Mary Shaffer is celebrated for her pioneering work with glass, which she has been crafting into small, individual objects, mixed-media sculptures, and immersive installations and public projects since the early 1970s. “The reason I like glass is its responsiveness to heat, its responsiveness to gravity, one of the strongest forces in the universe,” she explains. Early in her career, she capitalized upon gravity to develop an innovative method for shaping glass, which she calls “midair slumping.” By holding the molten-hot glass aloft and subjecting it to gravitational pull, she creates undulating, flowing forms. These appear as sheets, waves, lapping tongues, and oozing, liquid masses, which Shaffer often combines with cast bronze, found tools, stone, light, fiber optics, sound, and fire—the element in which her pieces were forged.

American, b. 1946, Walterboro, South Carolina, based in Taos, New Mexico