Paula Mandel, a native of Philadelphia, received degrees in Fine Arts and Psychology from Temple University. She worked in oils/mixed media for 25 years, creating psychological portraits, never imagining her future involved glass sculpture.
One fateful day, she walked into the National Liberty Museum and fell in love with glass. Once hooked on the medium, she determined to learn every glass technique offered. She embarked on a four-year journey, first taking her to Lucartha Kohler at University of the Arts. She studied flameworking, kiln-casting, fusing, stained glass and cold–working at Corning and Urban Glass. She studied for 2 years in the Fine Arts Degree program at Salem Community College with Anna Boothe, Paul De Marco and Paul Stankard.
As her voice in glass emerged so did those same psychological themes she had explored in 2-D. Mandel often melds glass with other materials such as fabric, hardware, and natural materials, adding color, texture and pattern to her sculpture. She has been creating interactive toys that utilize “extinct” vintage appliances and tools and infuse them with new meaning and purpose.
Her work was included in volume 1 of Best in America: Glass Artists and Artisans as well as the “Best of Philadelphia Glass Artists” exhibit at the National Liberty Museum. She has been juried into numerous exhibitions including the Snyderman Gallery, Philadelphia, Morgan Contemporary Gallery in Pittsburgh, and the Wayne Art Center, Wayne, PA. She co-founded and directs The Stained Glass Project: Windows That Open Doors. Philadelphia inner city students who work in this after-school program design and create stained glass windows for schools around the world. As of this date over 75 windows have been made by her students and donated to schools in South Africa, New Orleans, Minnesota (Ojibwe School), and North Philadelphia.