Class Notes & Profiles

Artistic Expression

By Daniel Steckenberg ’06

Those who knew Shari Axelrod ‘91 at Vassar as a double major in psychology and literature might be surprised to know that she now spends most of her time in her Brooklyn studio, making large stained-glass pieces.

The works themselves are between five- and eight-feet high and are actually only “95 percent stained glass,” says Axelrod. The other five percent might include “stone, metal, cast and cut polyresins, ‘found’ objects, and organic materials” — three-dimensional objects that give Axelrod’s work texture. In the past, she has even incorporated “Christmas ornaments, Crackerjack toys, charm bracelets, and toy pacifiers.”

These days, Axelrod uses her master’s in developmental psychology and doctorate in clinical psychology mainly as inspiration for her art. She uses psychologists as models, and, she says, her pieces have “narrative ‘back stories’ based on the models’ experiences, which are typically typed and hung next to the pieces.”

Axelrod works with glass because it is “tactile, dimensional, and varied. And, because of the incorporation of light, pieces are never static. These properties allow for considerable conceptual playfulness.” Her work has been installed in homes and music clubs in New York, and she was recently written up in the Glass Craftsman and Glass Quarterly and had a small showing in Paris.