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TRENDER: Artist Toots Zynsky

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


"Glass is a challenge every second"--Providence artist Toots Zynsky.

Which Rhode Islanders are leading in art, fashion, food and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers a chance to learn about the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, meet artist Toots Zynsky, who specializes in glassblowing but who has expanded into costume design--most recently for Festival Ballet Providence's recent production of Agon & Orchis.

What are your ties to the state of Rhode Island? Where do you currently live and work?

My ties to RI began with my undergraduate studies at RISD. Although I left RI immediately following graduation, I have always had great friends here and loved the state – particularly its remarkably beautiful coastline and islands. After living in many places prior to the 16 years I lived in Europe, I returned to the States with my family and we decided on Providence, where I have lived and worked since 1999.

What do you enjoy most about glasswork? What is the most challenging part?

Glass is a challenge every second – it’s a very stimulating medium because it has so many possibilities. Thermo-shocking is the greatest constant challenge.

What is one glass piece or collection that you are the most proud of?

Difficult to say. Perhaps the Museum of Modern Art because that was a great surprise (which I at first thought was a joke being played on my by a friend). I was young and it was the first time MoMA had directly acquired a piece of glass (and then commissioned a second one) from their purchase funds. That was a big thrill.

The other collections I am perhaps most pleased with are the ones I have given to my children. These are some of my best works.

Why were you drawn to glass as a medium for your artwork? Since you worked on Costume Design for the Festival Ballet Providence, are you also interested in dance?

The first thing I ever wanted to be was a dancer. I was first attracted to glass when I saw a group of students and faculty working together in the Glass studio at RISD. It looked like spontaneous choreography to me. I’ve always loved dance.

Was your skill in glasswork incorporated into the designs for the costumes? How so?

My creativity applies to both. The reflectivity incorporated in the costumes is related to glass.

What is the most rewarding thing about working in Rhode Island? The most challenging?

Rhode Island is quite special for the size and scope of its creative arts and intellectual community – you’ll notice that I have counted that as one.

The most challenging? Funding for the Arts, which is part of our larger national responsibility to improve education for our youth - which includes getting all of the arts back in our primary and secondary schools.

If you missed seeing Agon & Orchis or just love ballet, be sure to check out Festival Ballet Providence’s next production, UP CLOSE ON HOPE, occurring March 29 & 30, April 5 & 6, 12 & 13. For more information and tickets click here. 


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