Grande Dame of Glass, Audrey Handler | Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass
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Grande Dame of Glass, Audrey Handler

Grande Dame of Glass, Audrey Handler

Posted on Nov 13, 2018, by


As one of Harvey Littleton’s first female students working in glass, Audrey Handler is a pioneer of the Studio Glass Movement. Since 1965 she has been a formidable figure influencing the development of glass as an artistic medium both as an artists and teacher. Fifteen of Handler’s works are featured in Sharper Edges: Women Working on the Edge of Glass now on exhibit at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass.

In her own words, I am a story teller. I usually have a theme but I like the viewer to look at my work and bring his or her own interpretation to my art. What do they see? It can be the same as what I see, or very different. I create sculptural environments that make a comment on universal experiences usually on domestic themes.

Audrey Handler Monuments in the Park

Audrey Handler
Monuments in the Park

My research, ideas and concepts come from life observations. These sculptures are small worlds and landscape portraits with life-sized objects and sometimes tiny cast sterling silver and gold people. They create a surrealistic time and place. I also make bowls of realistic fruit and bowls of vegetables. My sculptures combine wood and glass, a new series I call “Pear in a Chair” and “Wedding Pair”. These are made with the collaboration of my husband John Martner who fabricates the tiny wood chairs and love seats. 

Painting with low fire glass paints and fusing them on tiles, glass and blown glass, creating landscapes of the prairie seen from my studio window, areas around Wisconsin and visions of landscapes from my many travels, has been a recent addition to my work in glass. These glass paint paintings are an extension of my work with blown glass extending more than 53 years, as well as a return to my roots as an oil painter. Our studio is an old renovated cheese factory with posters, photos and lots of space for my creative work. My glass blowing studio is on the first floor, my husband’s wood shop and my painting studio are on the second floor.

Handler creates single blown glass forms of fruit, glass platters and vases. She also creates sculptural environments that make a comment on universal experiences usually on domestic themes. These sculptures create a surrealistic time and place. As a part of her inspiration, Handler admits her mother always had a bowl of fruit around the house.

Handler holds a B.F.A. from Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts and a M.S. and M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Department of Art.

Sharper Edges will be on view through February 17, 2019

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