Smithsonian Visionary Award Honors Glass Artists Dan Dailey and Judith Schaechter

January 26, 2024
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Image of stained glass in various colors with stylized figure floating in center with hands behind its back, looking upward.

Judith Schaechter, “The Life Ecstatic”
Stained Glass Lightbox, 31 x 29 x 4 inches / 79 x 74 x 10 cm
Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery.

The Smithsonian Visionary Award will be presented to two outstanding glass artists, Dan Dailey and Judith Schaechter, during the 2024 Smithsonian Craft Show Preview Night Benefit Wednesday, May 1, at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Dailey is honored for his innovative and captivating glass sculptures, blending elements of sculpture, painting and often humorous storytelling into his pieces. Nominator Carolyn Needel said that he “renders his figures in a way that reveals their emotions and thoughts.” Employing symbolic rather than representational elements, Dailey also pushes the boundaries of traditional glass composition by incorporating metal into many of his sculptures.

He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Philadelphia College of Art and his Master of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design. He has had a long, inspiring teaching career and was named Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts College of Art. Dailey’s work is included in many permanent museum collections, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.

Schaechter is honored because of the incomparable artistry and unique creative vision in her chosen discipline of stained glass. By melding distinctive themes and contemporary techniques within an ancient tradition, Schaechter has redefined conventional stained glass. In her work, her intense colors are not typically painted but painstakingly created by layering colored glass upon colored glass and eventually illuminating from behind. She has said that she wants to “present an opportunity to expand our definition of the beautiful.” Schaechter graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design Glass Program. A highly renowned teacher and speaker, Schaechter is an adjunct professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her art is found in the permanent collections in numerous public museums, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Corning Museum of Glass and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Established in 2014, the Smithsonian Visionary Award is presented annually by the Smithsonian to American artists deemed by experts in the field to have achieved the pinnacle of sculptural arts and design in their respective medium. Previous honorees include Albert Paley, Wendell Castle, Toots Zynsky, Dale Chihuly, Faith Ringgold, Joyce J. Scott, Patti Warashina, David Ellsworth, Michael Hurwitz, Chunghi Choo and Mary Lee Hu.

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Heidi Austreng

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