One of the pioneers of the modern glass art movement, Mary Ann “Toots” Zynsky is an artist best known for her vessels comprised of heat formed “filet de verre,” or threads of interwoven glass. “Toots” Zynsky’s played an important role in the development of the modern glass art movement and her own pioneering technique has cemented her place in 20th century art history.
“Toots” Zynsky attended the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where she studied under Dale Chihuly and as a contemporary of several other glass artists, including Bruce Chao, Dan Dailey, Therman Statom, and James Carpenter. She followed Dale Chihuly back to his home state of Washington, where she became an integral part in the founding of the Pilchuk Glass school.
For many artists, mastering the emerging medium of blown glass art would be challenging and influential enough to define an entire career. For “Toots” Zynsky, glass was the jumping off point for a burgeoning interest in other materials. She began experimenting with unconventional materials like fabric, thread, and barbed wire. In 1980, she accepted a position as the director of the New York Experimental Glass Workshop where she began to interweave her glass background with her newfound interest in unconventional materials. She developed an innovative technique to create thin, crystalline glass structures that appeared like thread, and when woven together, appeared like fabric. These threads would go on to be called “filet de verre” and her glass vessels comprised of them would become known as “spun glass” vessels.
Today, “Toots” Zynsky’s art is displayed in more than 70 museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Venini Museum collection on the island of Murano, Italy.