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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

The Colors of Spirit

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”

It’s the spirit of imagination and inspiration that local glass artist Sandy Pendleton captures in each of her glittering and brilliant glass creations. Sandy grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan, near Detroit, and credits her grandmother for her interest in creating. "She always had some crafty project ready to occupy us when my sister Nancy and I visited her in Iowa." Years later, college student Sandy and a friend loaded up their backpacks and headed out to discover Europe. This trip proved to be an essential foundational piece for Sandy's later glass creations. While in Paris, she fell in love with the great cathedrals and their enchanting light-filled spaces. Sandy recounts the brilliance of the colors, filtered through ancient stained-glass panels, dancing in cavernous sacred spaces.

After college, Sandy's career began in the computer field, working for IBM as a computer programmer and project manager. Pursuing a path in the technology industry left little time for creating items by hand. The time came when she decided to leave the technology world and explore her creative side. During this period she was living in Pinetop, Arizona. Sandy states, "The local community college art department offered a class in kiln-fired glass, which reignited my passion for learning about the magic of creating in colored glass." Sandy incorporated what she learned in these early classes with her imagination and ingenuity moving her craft from the arena of ancient glass artisans to the present-day with a twist.

Today, Sandy and her husband spend their summers among the towering pines of Pinetop, and their winters at their home in Cave Creek, located in the foothills of the Spur Cross Preservation Area. Wisely she maintains a glass studio in both locations. For this reason, botanical themes crop up regularly in her work. Sandy shares the example of her iridescent glass creation, "Superstition Geode." The piece assumes the beauty of the setting sun as the light casts its spell in shadows over the Superstition Mountains. Another work, "Scarlet Bloom" is a piece about energy. The inspiration came to Sandy as she gazed over the forest during a still morning, realizing each living thing thrives within the vibration of life's energy.

"The local community college art department offered a class in kiln-fired glass, which reignited my passion for learning about the magic of creating in colored glass."

Creativity runs in Sandy's family; sister Nancy Pendleton is a contemporary mixed-media artist. The two often work together in developing a glass focal point and then incorporate it into the context of a mixed media panel. Their "Golden Rods" project is a strong example of this sibling collaboration. Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale and Philabaum Glass Gallery in Tucson exhibit Sandy's work as well as the pieces she does in collaboration with her sister.

Moving forward Sandy continues to push the limits in her craft by enrolling in various glass-casting, molding, and firing workshops with nationally known glass artists. She recounts how challenging it is at times, however the experience and knowledge gained are priceless for pushing her work forward. Artist Sandy Pendleton is a member of the Sonoran Arts League, High Country Art Association, and Arizona Glass Alliance.


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