Philadelphia artist enhances career through SCC
Paula Mandel began her artistic career as a painter before turning to the medium of glass to bring substance to her vision.
From 2005 to 2007, Paula attended Salem Community College, completing every course in the Glass Art program. She learned how to incorporate flameworking, along with kiln-casting, cold working and leaded glass techniques into her art. Now, as a sculptor, she combines these various glass techniques with vintage materials, giving them new life as art that is both whimsical and thought provoking.
"I hunt down old toasters, heaters, handles, block and tackle, roller skates," said the Philadelphia resident. "I look for anything that is beautifully constructed and no longer very useful to our current lifestyles, and give them a different life."
The SCC alumna attended the 10th annual International Flameworking Conference held at the Samuel H. Jones Glass Education Center in Alloway. She said it is the high caliber of talent combined with the exciting new facility that really set the 10th anniversary conference apart. And while she admired all the artists, she said she was truly struck by the work of Ginny Ruffner, the 2006 featured artist, who returned to present a well-received talk at the conference.
"A lot of my work combines various aspects of art, including painting," Paula said, "so Ms. Ruffner's work really inspires me."
Paula's work has been displayed at the National Liberty Museum and the Snyderman/ Works Gallery in Philadelphia and the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, Pa. Her work was selected to appear in the book Best of America Glass Artists and Artisans.
Four years ago, she began "The Stained Glass Project" which brings together artists to teach stained glass to inner-city students at Germantown High School in Philadelphia.
"We are currently finishing 14 stained glass windows which have been designed and executed by these students, many of whom have never before created art," Paula said.
The windows are on display at the Philadelphia Welcome Center at Love Park in Center City.
She is continuing to work on a series of interactive "toys" that are constructed of glass and vintage items. She works on several pieces at a time, each at a different stage of development.
"I love the fun and excitement of flameworking," says Paula, who added that she enjoys the "challenge of getting the glass to do what I need it to do."
However, she is aware of the medium’s unpredictability. "Glass breaks! This knowledge causes me to think more deeply about the engineering and construction of the pieces," she said.
Paula’s work can be viewed at www.paula-mandel.com.
By Tracy Wiggins
Photo by Carol Bates