Sidney Hutter: Cool as Glass
For nearly four decades, Sidney Hutter’s plate glass creations have pushed the boundaries of this cool medium.
Sidney Hutter is a renowned sculptor who creates glass artworks using layered plate glass and lights.
Born in 1954 in Champaign, Illinois, Hutter studied at Illinois State University, Lowell Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Massachusetts College of Art. He founded Sidney Hutter Glass & Light in 1980 and has since refined his fabrication process, utilizing commercial and industrial techniques and custom machinery to create landscapes of color with layered plates of cut glass.
The studio has created projects for hotels in Hong Kong, Melbourne, Pittsburgh, Japan, and elsewhere. Hutter’s “cold-working” (rather than blown glass) style is also included in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC, among other major institutions, as well as the White House Craft Collection.
Most glass art is made with molten materials. But Sidney Hutter is not most glass artists. He’s one of perhaps a dozen living artists who excel in the cooler approach. Hutter works in cold glass—sheets of the same materials skyscrapers and store fronts are made from. Cut, colored, and fused, plate glass is transformed into extraordinary art. But though they may look functional, don’t be fooled. Hutter’s vases are completely solid.
Sidney Hutter: Most vessels that are blown, it’s a cavity. Mine start as planes, and they can be altered in a bunch of different ways. But what it contains is light, structure. And it contains form, but it doesn’t contain water for flowers.
What they do contain is radiance. Hutter says that all his works are, at their core, vehicles for light: both natural and artificial.
Hutter: And now I’m working with LED lights, and trying to change the way that you’re interacting with the glass through the light.
And if Hutter’s style seems at times psychedelic, it’s with good reason.
Hutter: I have always been a real lover of the Grateful Dead. And I made this piece—and it was when I was using the dyes, and I was using more than a couple of colors—and it looked sort of like one of the light shows from a Grateful Dead concert. And so I said, “Wow, this is like Jerry vision, or something.” And so I had this whole series of Jerry Vision pieces.
Now a long established and highly respected artist in his field, Hutter has focused on finding the right balance between commercial speed and artisanal quality, in the hope of sharing his creations more widely than ever.
Hutter: The quality of the work that I make, it’s as high as I can make it. And to make it in a much more commercial environment means that I’m gonna have to give up some of those controls. But I would like for more people to have my work, because I’d like more people to enjoy it.
And if Sidney Hutter’s past is any indication, there’s a very good chance they will.