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2022 John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship Award Winner

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Boston’s Society of Arts + Crafts announced that Sophie Glenn is the 2022 recip­i­ent of the John D. Mineck Fellow­ship, a high-profile award with an unre­stricted $25,000 prize given annu­ally to an early-career furniture artist.

Sophie Glenn Portrait

Based in Reading, PA, wood­worker, sculp­tor, metal­worker, furni­ture designer, and Furni­ture Society member Sophie Glenn stood out to Fellow­ship jurors as a talented artist with a unique vision, a commit­ment to artis­tic growth, and a promis­ing tech­ni­cal ability. Her selec­tion, made from a national pool of appli­cants, will be recog­nized October 6 with an award cere­mony at the Boston Golf Club in Hingham, Mass.

Glenn was born and raised in New York City, and attended the music, art and perform­ing arts insti­tu­tion LaGuardia High School before earning a Bach­e­lor of Fine Arts degree in Sculp­ture and Drawing from Purchase College/​State Univer­sity of New York. She pursued a Master of Fine Arts in Furni­ture Design and Wood­work­ing at San Diego State Univer­sity. In college I pursued art and studied sculp­ture, but strug­gled to find my voice,” Glenn says. At SUNY, I was intro­duced to furni­ture maker Vivian Beer and it all fell into place. I remem­ber welding for the first time and it really struck me – this is what I have to do.”

Sophie’s work attracted me at first when I thought I was looking at wood. When I real­ized it was steel instead of wood, I was impressed that It seemed so light, and showed a real inter­est and under­stand­ing of tradi­tional New England furni­ture forms. Her work in steel is like no other I have seen. She has the tech­ni­cal ability and design sense to be a leader in the field.”
- Miguel Gomez-Ibanez, Society of Arts + Crafts Trustee, Fellow­ship juror, and 2022 Furni­ture Soci­ety’s Award of Distinction Honoree.

After complet­ing resi­den­cies at Tennessee’s Arrow­mont School of Crafts and Appalachian Center for Craft – where Glenn was the 2016 – 2019 Wood Artist-In-Resi­dence – she earned a full-time posi­tion as Visit­ing Assis­tant Profes­sor of Sculp­ture at Missis­sippi State University.

Even though she had devel­oped a deep love for teach­ing, Glenn says time alone in her studio brought her true enrich­ment and devel­op­ment. She left acad­e­mia in 2021 to focus on her own designs, drawing inspi­ra­tion from antiques, old photographs and historic New England furni­ture. Her decep­tively modern pieces utilize tradi­tional designs trans­formed by inno­v­a­tive fabri­ca­tion processes – with steel stand­ing in for wood. I have always been fasci­nated with trying to harmo­niously combine wood and steel in furni­ture,” Glenn says, but often the two mate­ri­als would compete instead of comple­ment each other. Ulti­mately I elim­i­nated wood entirely to create a series of classic furni­ture designs from rusted steel.”

I inten­tion­ally rust my works,” she says, it makes them look more like antiques but also shows off the mate­r­ial in a subtle way.” Her style brings humor and a cultur­ally savvy point of view to certain pieces, notably her recent Gorgeous George. This is one of the pieces I am most proud of,” she says. It’s a Regency-style chair; some­times the backs of these chairs would have paint­ings of nude women. I took a differ­ent spin on that idea…the image of Sein­feld char­ac­ter George Costanza came to mind, and I knew I had to use it.”

Glenn plans to use her Fellow­ship prize to complete construc­tion on an inde­pen­dent studio, and invest in shop tools and supplies to encour­age her artis­tic growth. Down the road she wants to lead work­shops, offer private instruc­tion, and mentor apprentices.

Learn more about Sophie:

The John D. Mineck Furni­ture Fellow­ship is one of the largest such prizes in the craft field and one of the grants supported by the Boston-based John D. Mineck Foun­da­tion, which honors inter­ests Mineck pursued through­out his life. The Fellow­ship focuses on rising furni­ture makers whose work is contem­po­rary and func­tional, and supports young artists with finan­cial assis­tance to develop their skills and move them toward independence. 

The Society of Arts + Crafts, where Mineck once served as Board pres­i­dent, has admin­is­tered the fellow­ship since it began in 2007. For more than a century, the Society of Arts + Crafts has connected artists with the commu­ni­ties that sustain them, and has been at the fore­front of the Amer­i­can craft move­ment, foster­ing the devel­op­ment, sales, recog­ni­tion, and educa­tion of fine craft. Its mission is to support and cele­brate craft makers and their creativ­ity; its vision is to build and sustain a vibrant and diverse commu­nity and to shape the future of craft. See the full mission here.