Sculptor and architect Hasna Sal revels in the magnificent medium.
When she speaks about the beauty of glass, Hasna Sal’s face becomes as illuminated as the art form she loves. With its clean, colorful properties, art glass can transform lives, she believes.
“Glass is so fascinating,” says this elegant, 43-year-old glass sculptor and architect. “My goal is to use glass in a completely different way. Glass has so much potential to do so many things.”
Originally from India and now living in Overland Park, Sal has carved a career working with glass. She first became enchanted with it as a child growing up in Catholic school. The stained glass windows in the chapel were mesmerizing to her but seemed, even then, rather two-dimensional.
It wasn’t until after she graduated from architecture school in Boston that she thought: Why can’t glass be more than just a canvas on a wall? So she spent years learning about glass from various artists and began creating colorful works of glass art, meticulously fusing layer after layer. Walls, sinks, light fixtures, tables, backsplashes, ceiling orbs and sculptures are all part of her repertoire.
“People don’t know what you can do with glass and how it can actually help you and enhance your life,” she says. “It’s not just something that you put in a curio cabinet. It’s not just something that you put on a wall and look at once in a while. Glass can be part of your every day, and it can bring you so much joy and relief and make your life so much better.”
Her goal is to manipulate light and glass, creating a cornucopia of colors, planes, textures and moods.
“How does light go through glass? That essentially is the core concept of all my work,” she explains. “Once I decide what I want it to do, then I start creating the structural form of the glass. Whether it’s a sink, light fixture, backsplash…it all depends on what I want the light to do to it.”
Her work is targeted for a small audience, she readily acknowledges.
“I’m not into the neoclassical architecture, with massive houses with palladium windows and chandeliers and big, somber furniture,” she says. “My work is mostly contemporary. It is light and airy using glass. I use architecture as a tool to dissolve the barriers between sculpture and architecture. For me, those lines are very blurred. I see every surface as a canvas on which I can create something unique. I feel that every surface has to have meaning, and there has to be something there that is thoughtfully put. It’s not just, ‘Oh I have a ceiling so I’m going to go buy a chandelier and I’ll put it over there.’ I don’t like that. For me, what is it doing to the person who uses the house?”
Harish Panicker, a radiologist, is a client of Sal’s whose Olathe home has been transformed through her work. For Panicker, who works long hours, coming home to a clean, contemporary, light-filled home full of colorful glass soothes his soul. Everyone’s home, he believes, should be filled with such art. His home features Sal’s glass walls, sinks, a unique kitchen table made of granite with embedded glass, windows and ceiling ornaments.
“It gives me the peace I was seeking,” says Panicker of her art. “It gives me a lot of tranquility, and it makes me feel relaxed. I want art to be part of my every day.
The two have become friends, and Sal rents his basement as her art gallery. Her work is available for showing by appointment. Spending long hours at a time with three kilns in her home studio is not for the faint of heart.
“I have all sorts of scars to prove it,” Sal says, explaining that she once had to take a trip to the emergency room because a piece of glass she was working on went through her thigh. “That’s why I think there are very few glass artists in this world because it’s a very dangerous medium to work with. There’s the heat, it’s heavy, you have to lift it, you have to grind it, you have to saw it, and sometimes right in the middle of that the saw breaks, which means you have to stop and fix it. I drill, I saw, I grind, all those things, glass fiber, glass dust, it’s all part and parcel of the process. I cannot tell you how messy it is. Every day when I come out, I have a couple of cuts at least. I don’t wear gloves because I need the finesse. If you cut glass the wrong way and then it goes into the kiln, it’ll shatter because you’ve given it so many stress points that is not seen by the naked eye. It took me two years to learn how to cut it right.”
She declines requests to tour her home studio because the fumes are carcinogenic. Still, despite the hazards, working with glass energizers her.
“I like to create,” she says. “I like to go into my studio every morning and get a fresh sheet of glass, and the ideas just explode in my head with all the possibilities this could be. For me, it is mostly about deciding. I have to cross out, cross out. I have to boil it down to ‘OK, what is the best possible use for this sheet of glass?’”
To learn more about Hasna Sal’s work at her Glass Concepts 360 gallery, visit glassconcepts360.com.