Glassy Lady

White Pines Sunset is part of a series of windows—7.5 feet by 3.5 feet—on display at the Unitarian Church of Greater Lansing, in Michigan. “I walked into the studio on a bright sunny day,” Miller says, “and the effect of all the colors spilling onto the floor was mesmerizing." Photos courtesy of Anne Miller.

Anne Ryan Miller, ’74, is an artist whose canvases are made of glass. Miller, the owner of Anne Ryan Miller Glass Studio in Nashville, Ind., layers sheets of stained and blown glass along with delicate lines of copper foil to create unique, multidimensional works of art. “You can get a very real sense of intricate foreground, middle, and then the far distant background that way,” she explains.

When Miller adds metal overlays to the front of glass pieces, dramatic silhouettes appear. Cranes and cattails, fallen leaves, and distant trees pop against opalescent and multicolored glass. For subtler, more diffuse effects, she sandwiches copper elements between or behind the glass layers.

Largely self-taught, Miller has worked as a stained-glass artist since the mid-1970s, although, she admits, “I had no inkling that I was going to get into some kind of art field.”

In fact, after earning her degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources, Miller attended IU to pursue a master’s degree in alternative education. As part of IU’s program, she took a teaching position in Coldwater, Mich., where she was helping to start an alternative school.

“In the end,” she says, “I was a really good teacher, but it wasn’t for me.”

Ultimately, befriending an artist based in Bloomington, Ind., would take Miller in a completely different direction. “[My artist friend] was learning to work with stained glass,” she says. “I helped her with cleaning, installing, and delivering [the final pieces].”

With practice, Miller became a stained-glass artist in her own right. Aside from her own, nature-inspired works, she has completed countless commissioned pieces for places of worship, private residences, and even veterinary clinics.

Among her most ambitious projects? An abstract, five-piece window panel spanning 40 feet—too big to display all at once in her studio.

“I had to keep jockeying the images around as I was laying out the colors,” Miller says. “It was very technically challenging, but it came out!”

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Written By
Susan M. Brackney
Susan M. Brackney, BA’94, has been a professional writer since 1995. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, she has written four nonfiction books, including Plan Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest-Working Creatures on the Planet.