With its sparkle and complex layering, fused glass art has a magical effect on both the beholder and the creator. Dallas artist Nan Phillips has always been mesmerized by the way glass catches light, and knew she wanted to implement its magic into her art.
The owner of a private glass studio in Richardson and an active volunteer with countless arts organizations for more than 21 years, Phillips has become a fixture in the Dallas art scene.
“I’m not comfortable with self-promotion,” she said, “but I love helping others.”
Her art speaks for itself.
While her volunteer efforts may take time she could otherwise spend in the studio, she says the benefits are worth it. Phillips currently serves as the President of the Texas Jewish Arts Association and has been generating the Texas Sculpture Association’s weekly newsletter since 1996.
It doesn’t take long to realize this is where Phillips shines: She’s a born teacher. Whether leading a class in her home studio or teaching off-site, this Phillips believes her efforts reward her.
“Teaching art is like the water lifting all of the boats at once,” she said. “The results raise us all.”
While she’s always been passionate about creativity, it wasn’t until her late 40s that Phillips decided to pursue her artistic gifts. She tried her hand in many disciplines, exploring figurative sculpture and pottery before settling on fused and stained glass.
“There’s something technically demanding about glass,” Phillips said. “You have to learn how to create the precise kiln temperature and understand chemistry while practicing good time management. I love solving problems, and glass keeps me engaged.”
Phillips spent three years buying glass, making things and ruining things, and perfecting her craft before opening her studio in 1999. Since then, she’s trained more than 300 Dallas residents in the art of fused and stained glass. She welcomes project challenges from her students and has learned to “reverse engineer” their vision, helping them turn their ideas into reality. Some require her technical assistance and return to use one of her eight kilns. Others want to learn the discipline from the ground up and ultimately open their own studios.
Phillips loves incorporating texture into her glasswork. She explained that some sculptures require repetitive firing to meet her desired surface texture and that she continues to seek new challenges.
“I’ll see someone’s artwork in a different medium, and that will spark my imagination,” she said. “I will ponder, ‘How can I do that in glass?’”
Before the onset of COVID, Phillips taught 30-40 students in her home weekly. Most of her students are 60+ and retired. According to Phillips, they create art as a form of therapy.
“I get lost in art, and the world goes away,” she said. “It’s my therapy.” She looks forward to inviting those students back into her home soon.
Creating art is its own reward, so Phillips is willing to teach her students the craft while meeting them at their experience level. She is quietly changing the world one student at a time.
“I can’t not create,” Phillips said. “It’s in my nature to make things.” Even and especially if that includes making new artists.
For more information on Nan Phillips and see her art, visit www.Nan-art.com.