Tell us about yourself!
My name is Sukayna El Hani and I am from Baltimore, Maryland. I am a senior in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Craft and Material Studies program. I discovered glass blowing during my second year in VCU’s arts program when I transitioned from painting to crafts as my major: once I blew my first bubble, I was hooked. This semester I’m serving as a TA for an intro to glass class for incoming craft students. Beyond VCU, I sharpened my skills with murrine at Pittsburgh Glass Center, helped to build a Venetian chandelier at Pilchuck Glass School, and attended the 2018 GAS Conference in Murano, Italy.
What draws you to the material you work with, and why have you chosen the processes that you use in your work?
Long before I discovered glass, I was inspired by the work of Caravaggio and his exploration of light and shadow, with figures emerging from the darkness. The translucent qualities of glass enable me to explore how light can pass through and interplay with color, shadow, and reflection. I am also fascinated by molten glass, it’s glow and fluidity, and how it has a mind of its own and you have to perform a dance with it to shape it into the desired form.
What themes do you pursue in your work?
My identity as a Moroccan American has been a recurring theme in my work. I did not grow up in Morocco, and I have been trying to define myself and connect to my Moroccan heritage for the past few years. I try to express these themes through the relationship between comfort and discomfort, comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable. My work has included elements such as apple pie and Moorish designs, but also distorted Moroccan mirrors cast in the glass that grabbed at my hair.
If you weren't working in this field, what career would you choose?
If I were not an artist, I would probably pursue chemistry. I am fascinated by how materials interact with each other.
What's something about you that most people don't know?
A huge turning point for me as a young artist was in 2014 when I saw the James Turrell retrospective at LACMA. It was the first time I moved beyond paint on canvas and thought of how light interacted with three-dimensional objects. I had never seen someone work with light as a material, and now it helps my understanding of light and glass, as the interplay of two materials.
Why are you a member of GAS?
I joined GAS to be part of the larger community of glass artists, to connect with more artists from around the world and be informed of what is going on in the glass world. Attending the GAS conference has helped meet new artists and make friends.
To learn more about Sukayna El Hani, go to her GAS MEMBER PROFILE PAGE