Heather Hancock, health care worker turned glass artist
Genevieve Bookwalter Pioneer Press
Evanston artist Heather Hancock has lived in the north suburb since 1993. She primarily works with glass and her creations are featured in a show through May 26 at Evanston Art Center.
Q: What first brought you to Evanston?
A: We moved here for my husband, Cam, to attend Northwestern. I was working as a speech language pathologist in Chicago-area hospitals. We found an amazing community of friends and are still here 25 years later.
Q: How did you get involved with glasswork?
A: I came to my art practice via a career in health care. I worked for more than a decade in physical rehabilitation. I was passionate about helping others “live well” but there was a limit to what we could do in the health care setting. I came to see how important our physical surroundings are to our well-being, that beauty matters. I saw glass while traveling in Europe. I started to experiment with this gorgeous durable medium and gradually came to understand how powerful glass is in creating an engaging visual experience.
Q: How long have you been using glass as a medium?
A: I first started experimenting with glass in the mid-90s and then left health care to focus on art full-time in 2004.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working with glass?
A: The best thing about working with glass is the way it catches light. Even a tiny glimmer of light brings glass to life. There’s this contradiction of glass being both fragile and impossibly strong. The interplay of glass and light is so ephemeral but the pieces themselves are enduring.
Q: What frustrates you most about working with glass?
A: There are plenty of shapes that can’t be hand cut in glass. So I’m always translating what I can envision into what can be cut in glass. And then it’s very challenging to photograph glass. Photographs freeze light but my work is about playing with light. You really have to see glass in person to understand it.
Q: Does living in Evanston affect your work at all?
A: Definitely. Evanston is the perfect balance of nature and city for me. Alongside the precision lines and repetition in our cityscape, I notice the constant change and transformations of our gorgeous lake and urban forest. I take a lot of pictures around Evanston. Beyond defining my own aesthetics, Evanston is a great place to be a working artist. This is a thriving creative and entrepreneurial community. I have an ever growing network of artists and mentors, collectors and creative entrepreneurs.
Q: Where did you draw the inspiration for your current show at Evanston Art Center?
A: My current work, “Reflect”, explores urban beauty. Glass is everywhere in our city. It catches light, reflects the sky and animates our streetscapes. “Reflect” is inspired by this overlooked urban beauty. I think that living well in urban settings requires new ways of seeing beauty and finding connections with the natural world.
Q: What do you enjoy around Evanston when you're not working?
A: Pretty much anything that gets us outside. Running at the lakefront. Lagging far behind our 13-year-old son Milo on bike trails. Our 17-year-old daughter Clio gets us out skating whenever winter weather cooperates and has recently introduced me to the wonders of a hammock.