Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Crafts & Design - Glass
Year of graduation: 1985
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
At 27, Laura Donefer had travelled the world and was working as a writer when she enrolled at Sheridan. She wanted to create jewellery but a previous back injury caused her such pain while sitting that she couldn’t continue in the program. “I was crushed. I had changed my life to come to Sheridan,” recalls Laura, who grew up in Quebec and graduated from literature and languages and Latin American Studies programs at McGill University and Dawson College.
But then a door opened – literally. “I was standing in a hallway, totally despondent, when Daniel Crichton (head of Sheridan’s glass program at the time) opened a classroom door and called me in. He told me to come with him to the hot shop. I saw the magic of the glass and never looked back. He saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself, and changed the course of my life.”
That was in1982. Laura, an award -winning international artist, has since spent more than three decades devoted to the art of glass, teaching, lecturing and promoting Canadian glass artists around the world.
She has been faculty at Sheridan College and Espace Verre in Montreal, and has given workshops at the Corning Museum in New York, the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State and the Penland School in North Carolina, to name a few places. Among Laura’s numerous career highlights are teaching in Japan and Australia, and a stint as an Artist-in-Residence in New Zealand. In September 2014, Laura will return to Pilchuck as an Artist-in-Residence.
Laura’s work has been exhibited internationally, at the Hokkaido Museum in Japan, the Museo de Vidrio in Mexico, the Museum of Fine Art in Montreal, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Corning Museum of Glass, and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.
As part of her efforts to support artists here at home, Laura began publishing, The Glass Gazette during her time as President of the Glass Art Association of Canada (GAAC). In 2006, she received GAAC’s first Lifetime Achievement Award and was presented with an Honorary Membership Award from the international Glass Art Society two year later.
Looking back, Laura feels privileged to have been part of what she calls the “Quonset hut days” of Sheridan’s School of Crafts and Design in south Mississauga. “We were a close-knit group of artists who pushed the boundaries and were able to experiment freely.”
That sense of independence has been a hallmark of her work through the years. “I have always done what I felt in my heart, not what others told me I should do. I think that’s what makes my work unique. That drive to follow my passion was sparked at Sheridan.”
Find out more about Sheridan’s Bachelor of Crafts & Design program.