Photos Courtesy of The Scout Guide Memphis and Shardz, Inc. and Pat Brown
Exceeding so well in your career could be a detriment. Fay Miller realized that after years of being a marketing and communications executive who was constantly moving up the corporate ladder.
“I started my career as a paste-up artist,” (see side bar) said the 76-year-old who is happiest when shaping her exquisite glass pieces in her California studio. “I designed trade-show booths, created advertising campaigns and kept moving further up into management positions where I had people working for me. I wasn’t doing the one thing that makes me the happiest – using my two hands to create.”
Fay, who attended Moore College of Art, Queens College and Westchester School of Fine Arts,retired from the corporate world and traveled with her husband to numerous galleries to find an artist who would share their passion and knowledge. She soon found the perfect match with glassmaker Richard Silver. As his apprentice, she learned the craft and ultimately bought his business when he left to go back into teaching.
“The physics and chemistry of glassmaking fascinates me,” she explained. “I love shaping the fluid and forming it with vibrant colors into a solid piece.”
According to her website, “Every day I see things I want to recreate – leaves blowing in the wind, animal horns at the zoo, buildings rising in the city, political debates on television, seasons changing the landscape and people gathered in joyous celebration. I incorporate elements of whimsy wildness and intense color. The beauty, geometry and harshness of the natural world drive my creative process.”
The first piece she actually created was a mezuzah. Mezuzahs can still be found among her Judaic collection alongside menorahs, candle sticks, kiddush cups and more.
One of her most popular and best-selling items (in Memphis) are the cups she makes for use during a Jewish wedding ceremony. At the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, the groom steps on a glass shattering into pieces (shardz) – representing that this should be the most shattering experience between the new bride and groom – and everyone shouts, “mazel tov” (good luck).
“I was attending the wedding of Jewish friend, and another guest said to me, ‘I wish there was something people would make with the broken pieces of glass,’” explained Fay. “I said, ‘we’ll come up with an idea.” And they did.
Fay’s glass vessels come in a wide variety of colors including a multicolor glass. After the wedding, the couple sends the shardzback to Fay where she incorporates the pieces into any of her Judaic pieces, frames or other artwork. “Creating pieces that reflect the joy of a celebration or a ritual are very inspiring and special to me,” said Fay.
These glass vases and all of Fay’s work can be seen in Memphis exclusively at T Clifton Art Gallery on Broad Avenue.
Paste up artist refers to a method of creating or laying out publication pages by hand that predates the use of the now-standard computerized page design desktop publishing programs. Completed, or camera-ready, pages are known as mechanicals or mechanical art.
“We first met Fay in 2014 at a fine art show in Philadelphia where we admired her vibrant and whimsically colorful pieces” said Pat Brown co-owner of T. Clifton art. “When she asked if in addition to her sculptures if we would consider exhibiting her Judaica, we turned to some long-time framing clients, Fran Winstock, Leslie Landau and her daughters-in law, Shelley and Suzanne for their advice. They enthusiastically agreed that yes, Memphis needed a showroom where residents could find fine-art Judaic pieces.”
In curating works for the gallery, we seek relationships with artists who have made their medium they are working with their own,” said co-owner T (Tom) Clifton. “This ensures when clients walk into the gallery their options are unique, artisan works of art.”
Fay’s works most definitely fall into that category.
“Interpreting and refining the multitude of stimuli that bombard my brain every day is what my work is about,” said Fay. “And I am lucky at my age to be doing what I am most passionate about in life.”
Visit Shardz.net to see Fay’s eclectic collections. And stop by T. Clifton Art Gallery on Broad Avenue to witness their pure beauty in person. You’ll probably find much more to take home than that next wedding gift.
Shardz exhibits include Art of the Spirit, Art Festival 2003, Craft Alliance Menorah Show, Boulder Arts and Crafts Cooperative Judaica Show, Art of Our Time, Festival of Jewish Artisans, Orange County Museum of Art Craft Show, Awakenings VIII, Kremen Gallery Celebration and various other shows. The work is shown at galleries across the United States, England and Canada. Miller has designed awards for Amnesty International, LA Weekly, The Lee Strasberg Institute, The City of West Hollywood, ACLU, The American Jewish Committee, The Shofar, The Klein Chaplaincy, United Jewish Fund, The Jewish Federation and other charitable and corporate organizations. Special commissions include dining tables, side tables, a glass wall for Temple Ner Tamid in Palos Verdes, CA and an eternal light for Temple Sinai in Rancho Mirage, CA.