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Sophie Glenn ’12 Receives John D. Mineck Fellowship

Awarded by Boston’s Society of Arts + Crafts, the fellowship is given annually to an early-career furniture artist. “Her work in steel is like no other I have seen.”

Sophie Glenn ’12 is the 2022 recipient of the John D. Mineck Fellowship, an award given to an early-career furniture artist by Boston’s Society of Arts + Crafts, which includes an unrestricted $25,000 prize. It’s one of the largest and highest-profile awards in the crafts field.

Glenn is a woodworker, sculptor, metalworker, and furniture designer who jurors chose from a national pool of applicants and identified as “a talented artist with a unique vision, a commitment to artistic growth, and a promising technical ability.”

Her body of work, Rust Never Sleeps, remarkably resembles wood but is made completely of rusted metal, an intentional choice to fuse her training in both media.  

“The initial impetus for creating my current body of work, ‘Rust Never Sleeps,’ was to come up with a way that I could combine my educations in steel fabrication and woodworking, other than using both wood and steel simultaneously.

“Ultimately, I found that the best way to highlight these similarities in the realm of furniture making was to eliminate wood entirely from my process.

“By recreating classic furniture designs completely out of painted and rusted steel, I am able to pay homage to, and in some ways, make fun of both craft disciplines and the history of furniture making,” reads Glenn’s artist statement.

Her designs are inspired by antiques, old photographs, and historic New England furniture. While her pieces look antique, she sometimes injects humor and contemporary pop culture references.

Gorgeous George is a Regency-style chair, yet often where a nude woman would appear on the back, Glenn instead placed an image of the Seinfeld character George Costanza.

Society of Arts + Crafts Trustee and Fellowship juror Miguel Gomez-Ibanez initially thought her work was made of 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,” he says. “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.”

Glenn plans to use the Fellowship prize to complete the construction of an independent studio and invest in shop tools and supplies to encourage her artistic growth. 

The John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship focuses on rising furniture makers whose work is contemporary and functional. It supports young artists with financial assistance to develop their skills and move them toward independence.

Read more about Sophie Glenn and how Windgate Artist in Residence Vivian Beer inspired Glenn as a student here.