On April 29th, 2020 we were invited into the Studio of Toots Zynsky for a virtual tour and artist talk.
Mary Ann Toots Zynsky was born in 1951 and raised in Massachusetts. Known professionally and to her friends as Toots Zynsky, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1973 at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence. There, she was one of a group of pioneering artists studying with Dale Chihuly, who made studio glass a worldwide phenomenon.
Toots Zynsky’s distinctive heat-formed filet de verre (glass thread) vessels enjoy a widespread popularity and deserved acclaim for their often extraordinary and always unique explorations in color. Defying categorization, her pieces inhabit a region all their own, interweaving the traditions of painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts.
“Glassmaking was wide open,” Zynsky remembers. “Hot glass slipped through the air, pulled and stretched. There was music and the furnaces were roaring. . . and everyone was working in concert. . . It was this material that had not been widely explored as an artist’s medium. Everything was possible, and there was so much to be discovered. There were no rules. You could do anything you wanted.”
In Chihuly’s words, her class was a group with extraordinary energy, amounting to “the most creative, highly charged institutional experience I’d ever been a part of.” Among Zynsky’s classmates at RISD were other artists who went on to build successful careers, such as James Carpenter, Bruce Chao, Dan Dailey, and Therman Statom.