For the second half of our anniversary issue, catch up with alumni who are hosting game shows, saving animals, snapping photos around the world and more. Read up on grads old and new who are making an impact.
In DEMO 18, we caught up with Justin “Nordic Thunder” Howard (BA ’07), who had just been crowned the 2012 World Champion of Air Guitar. Three years later, Howard no longer competes, but the leather Viking outfit he performs in isn’t collecting dust. He volunteers as a scorekeeper and air guitar ambassador at events around the world, on top of his job editing video for the Rotary Club.
“The competition exists as a promotion of world peace,” Howard says of the Air Guitar World Championships. “We’re there to project positivity into the world. Everything we’re doing is absurd, and I’m hyperaware of that, but I also am hyperaware of the power of positive people.”
Longtime DEMO writer William Meiners (MFA ’96) gets back in the water with Olympic gold medalist—and Columbia’s oldest living alum—Adolph Kiefer (BA ’40).
MEINERS: For the better part of the last decade, I’ve been lucky enough to write for DEMO magazine. I’ve met, interviewed and shared success stories of dozens of fellow Columbia alumni: bestselling authors, famed moviemakers, award-winning journalists and a variety of talented artists. It’s not easy summarizing someone’s life with a limited word count. It was particularly challenging with Olympian Adolph Kiefer (BA ’40), a man synonymous with swimming, whom I interviewed for DEMO 13.
I met the 1936 Olympic gold medalist and longtime backstroke record holder in his home north of Chicago five years ago. For two hours, Kiefer showed me pictures and told stories from a personal history worthy of a feature-length movie. Jesse Owens, the sprinter who may have spoiled Adolf Hitler’s notions of an Aryan master race, took the young Kiefer under his wing, and they remained lifelong friends. (Kiefer actually shook hands with Hitler at the Berlin games, before anyone knew of the atrocities the madman had in store.) Later, Kiefer attended Columbia in preparation for a Hollywood movie career (to possibly play Tarzan), but when World War II erupted, he served his country the best way he could: helping save lives by teaching servicemen how to swim. Kiefer ran his own swimming business, Adolph Kiefer & Associates, for nearly 70 years, revolutionizing the sport in countless ways. Kiefer and I caught up this summer, a few days before he turned 97.
Are you still swimming?
Yes. I swam from [9 a.m.] until 10 o’clock this morning. I’m in a wheelchair now, but I still have to train. I play a lot of bridge, competing against a lot of old people like me. But I’m a better bridge player than 80 percent of the people I play.
Jesse Owens was one of my heroes. What was he like?
Jesse was a great guy. I would carry his bag for him, and he would come over and watch me swim. I think he really was the Olympics in 1936. We’d be at events signing autographs and a long line of people would wait for Jesse’s autograph—and there was no one in my line. So he would send some people over to keep me busy.
You were at the University of Texas at Austin and then ended up in your Chicago hometown. What brought you to Columbia?
I had a contract with Paramount Studios, and they sent me to school at Columbia. I performed in two plays, went to school and had a job in advertising. That kept me pretty busy as I was still swimming and competing.
World War II canceled the Olympic Games in 1940 and 1944, where you would have competed. Instead, you created the “victory backstroke.” Talk about your time in the U.S. Navy.
The war comes along, and I went to Norfolk, anywhere without water. Once you teach a child to swim, you’re teaching him 21 sports. To me that’s the most important thing you can teach a child.
World War II canceled the Olympic Games in 1940 and 1944, where you would have competed. Instead, you created the “victory backstroke.” Talk about your time in the U.S. Navy.
The war comes along, and I went to Norfolk, Virginia, which is a sea base. German submarines were destroying ships off the coast, and because of an insufficient swimming program, we were losing too many people to drowning. I really couldn’t sleep. I became the instructor in charge of swimming instructors.
I suspect that’s one of the things you’re proudest of.
Yes. It’s still a problem today. The average number of drownings in the world each year is over half a million. Over 70 percent of the world is water, and you cannot go anywhere without water. Once you teach a child to swim, you’re teaching him 21 sports. To me that’s the most important thing you can teach a child.
I could probably guess this answer. What animal would you be if you weren’t human?
I’d be a seahorse, the same animal on our catalog. Seahorses are all over the world, and children are fascinated by them. I’d rather be a seahorse.
Say cheese! Our DEMO photographers traveled coast to coast to bring you all the best alumni shots. Here, three photographers recall their favorite photo shoots from over the years.
Jacob Boll (BA ’12)
“Dedicated and Decorated,” DEMO 22
Two-time Olympic sailing champion Hal Haenel (BA ’81) dominates as a Fox executive.
“For everything Haenel has accomplished, he was incredibly humble and very giving of his time. He dropped his Olympic sailboat in the bay, toured me around Fox’s studio lot, and brought me to the most notable set locations, writing rooms and recording studios in the industry. I used to think if I ever moved to LA, I’d love to be a beach bum, eat fish tacos and surf all day, but photographing Haenel pushed me to pursue grander ideas.”
Anthony Chiappetta (BA ’95)
“Fight Club,” DEMO 19
Weapon-wielding theatre alumni excel in stage combat.
“I wanted the images to capture a specific moment, and the subjects’ movement had to be extremely expressive. After telling [stunt performer and fight choreographer] Andrew Amani (BA ’99) what I wanted to do, he was completely on board. We were able to get some amazing photographs in just a short time. The shoot went so well that Andrew and I teamed up again to do a series of shoots with numerous stunt performers, some of the very best in the motion picture and theatre world.”
Drew Reynolds (BA ’97)
“Rock ’n’ Roll Radio,” DEMO 15
Columbia College Chicago had a lasting impact on powerhouse station 93XRT.
“To be able to work with rock ’n’ roll radio icons like Terri Hemmert, Johnny Mars (’78), Frank E. Lee (BA ’78) and Marty Lennartz (BA ’82) was unbelievable. We photographed while they were on air. It was an exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime experience I’ll never forget.
I love this picture of Terri in action at the XRT studio. She has a great little smile going on, and you can see how she loves what she does. So real and so raw.”
Alumni say the darndest things! Here are some of our favorite quotes from 10 years of DEMO magazine.
From filmmaking to farm animals, Jenny Brown (BA ’94) always follows her passion. In 2015, her animal sanctuary made a move that allows it to rescue more animals than ever.
It’s a wild time for Jenny Brown (BA ’94) and the animals of the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.
Brown has run the sanctuary, which provides a home to abandoned farm animals—many suffering from physical ailments— since 2004. But, she says, “This is the craziest time right now in the history of the sanctuary. We’ve grown beyond our capacity.”
With the help of a generous donor, the operation moved 45 minutes south of its old 23-acre Woodstock, New York, home to a sprawling, 150-acre parcel that is not only an animal sanctuary, but a camp and retreat center as well.
“We’re expanding to become a sanctuary for people, too,” Brown says. It’s a move that would make Noah proud: First came the cows, then the chickens and ducks, followed by goats, sheep, turkeys and pigs—some 250 animals in all.
Brown studied film at Columbia, where she was drawn in by the mission of an on-campus animal advocacy organization during New Student Week. She later used her camera skills to capture undercover footage of animal abuse. “What I saw…completely changed my life,” she says.
Not long after being featured in DEMO 8, Brown, who lost a leg to cancer during childhood, was profiled in a New York Times piece about Albie, a goat with an amputated leg she rescued and later outfitted with a prosthetic limb.
That article paved the way for a book deal, and Brown told her life story in The Lucky Ones, published by Penguin in 2012.
“Overcoming cancer gave me a greater appreciation for life and how our actions affect others,” she says. “I want to do something to make this world a better place for the most innocent amongst us.”
Pat Sajak (’68) might be Columbia’s biggest name, thanks to 34 years spent next to a certain rainbow wheel. Sajak began his career as a radio DJ, and then a TV weatherman, before signing on to host Wheel of Fortune in 1981. Before all that, he got his small screen start at Columbia, where he studied television.
Broadway director. Tony Award winner. Steppenwolf Theatre’s newest artistic director. Columbia College Chicago alumna. Honorary Degree Receipient, 2015.
“I love my work, but I learned to love it here. Sheldon [Patinkin, former Theatre chair] taught me art making as a basic human practice, its presence in our lives a requirement for not only being human, but staying human.”
—Anna Shapiro (BA ’90) upon receiving an honorary degree from Columbia
Columbia College Chicago is bringing more color and culture to the South Loop, one mural at a time.
Since 2013, Columbia has brought artists to the South Loop to create murals and installations along Wabash Avenue in a loosely defined stretch of the street known as the Wabash Arts Corridor. Over the summer of 2015, the corridor exploded with six new murals, including one by alumna Heidi Unkefer (BFA ’13).
Check out our guide to the stunning street art Columbia has brought to Wabash Avenue. (For those who can’t stroll along Wabash in person, wabashartscorridor.org features pictures and details of each artwork.)
- THE BUCKINGHAM, WEST WALL
- 33 E. CONGRESS, SOUTH WALL
- 634 S. WABASH, SOUTH WALL
- 623 S. WABASH, SOUTH WALL
- PAPERMAKER’S GARDEN
- 801 S. WABASH, WEST WALL
- 916 S. WABASH, NORTH WALL
- 72 E. 11TH, NORTH WALL
- 1132 S. WABASH, SOUTH WALL
Untitled mural by Never 2501
Untitled mural by RETNA
Moose Bubblegum Bubble by Jacob Watts (BA ’12)
UNIVERSITY CENTER, EAST WALL
Harmony by Ben Eine
Dystopian Brutality in Black and White by Cleon Peterson
Columbia Alumni Competition Mural Slime Mountain by Heidi Unkefer (BFA ’13)
Stop Telling Women to Smile by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
Untitled mural by Kashink
We Own the Future by Shepard Fairey
Untitled mural by POSE
Tornado by Kristen Kula (BFA ’13)
Chi Boy by Hebru Brantley
America’s relationship with garbage is “out of sight, out of mind,” according to photographer Misty Keasler (BA ’01)—but in developing countries, landfills are much more visible, and actually contain entire communities that live next to or inside the dumps, scavenging for saleable scraps. For her series dubbed Half Life, Keasler traveled to dumps in Guatemala, the Philippines and the U.S., as well as e-waste dumps in Nigeria, to document the way some of developing nations’ poorest citizens live and interact with trash.
In Guatemala City, makeshift homes shift constantly with the influx of new garbage, and in Lagos, Nigeria, one of the e-waste villages is complete with a mosque. Each community is unique, and yet, the pattern persists around the world. Says Keasler: “It’s definitely not a Guatemala issue; it’s a global issue.”
Up and Coming
These three alums found success in talent management.
Vanessa Baez (BA ’11)
Vice president, Marketing & Latin Relations, MVP Sports Group in Los Angeles
Baez handles publicity, marketing and endorsement deals for major league baseball players, especially those from the Dominican Republic, where she grew up.
“Your career path isn’t always what you think it will be. When I was in school, I thought I was going to be a sports broadcaster.”
Nick Pampanella (BA ’11)
Talent agent, United Talent Agency in New York City
Focused on booking speaking gigs and unique live events, Pampenella has worked with impressive clients like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Nye and Ice-T.
“Find something that you love. If you don’t know what you love, try something out.”
Patrick Zielinski (BA ’11)
Head of talent partnerships, Collab in Los Angeles
Collab discovers rising video creators and helps build their audiences across multiple platforms. Zielinski helps creators branch out to other formats like television and explore the newest opportunities in the digital space.
“I’m excited by the opportunities available in the digital world for content creators everywhere, and it’s been gratifying working toward the creation of a new studio model that focuses on talent.”
A shakedown cruise in the North Sea is an unusual place to find a Columbia College Chicago alum, but then, there’s not much usual about Andy Flessas (BA ’90). In DEMO 16, Flessas, also known as andyRobot (or the “robot whisperer,” according to Wired), talked about his work for Bon Jovi’s 2010 tour, for which he designed robotic video screens that transformed from a backdrop into stairs. But Bon Jovi fans weren’t the only ones impressed.
Royal Caribbean executives saw the show and wanted to do something similar for the onboard entertainment program of the company’s newest and largest ship, Quantum of the Seas. They wanted cruise passengers to experience something spectacular, so Flessas scaled his RoboScreens to accentuate shows aboard the megaship, which had its maiden voyage in 2014.
One phase of cruise ship development is testing for extreme conditions. Flessas spent 35 days on the North Sea aboard Quantum of the Seas during its sea trial. Work on rough waters ensured that the ship and all of its components—including the entertainment systems—would function properly no matter the weather conditions. At one point, the ship sailed into a terrible storm. “I was trying to make the robots run while throwing up,” Flessas says.
Flessas has perfected several land-based performing robots, too. He developed the mau5bots used by producer deadmau5 and created stage sets for the Japanese boy band Kis-My-Ft2 and Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, where robots entertained a crowd of 250,000 electronic dance music fans.
Flessas likes what he calls the sparkle of animation. “It’s smiling and making people happy,” he says. The original idea of animation was to add another dimension to pencil and paper drawings. Think of the simple flip-books children make. Now, the idea is to add another dimension to robotics, and the possibilities are almost limitless. “I see cameras on robots, sculpting on robots, acting with robots,” Flessas says. “What does it mean to act with robots, to write a script for robots, to have props and sets and stagecraft with them?”
Most recently, Flessas says, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory acquired his Robot Animator software—an intuitive plugin that allows users to automatically generate robot programs—for its Asteroid Redirect Mission, a pioneering project to explore asteroids in an effort to pursue a human mission to Mars in the 2030s.
“I never dreamed that the work I did on an Oxberry animation stand at Columbia would lead to robots in outer space,” says Flessas.
Looking to add some titles to your must-watch list? You can find Columbia College Chicago alumni behind the scenes on countless award-winning TV and film projects.
Best Cinematography, 1994
Janusz Kaminski (BA ’87) is Steven Spielberg’s go-to man for cinematography, and his credits include this heartbreaking film about the Holocaust.
Primetime Emmy winner: Samurai Jack
Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour), 2004
Inspired by samurai movies, show creator Genndy Tartakovsky (’90) was the guiding force behind Samurai Jack’s cinematic style and distinctive animation.
Oscar winner: Selma
Best Original Song, 2015
Common (’96) penned the song “Glory” with John Legend for 2014’s Selma, helping set the stirring soundtrack for the historic civil rights march.
Emmy winner: Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Musical or Comedy Program, 1989
Before he charmed viewers as corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk (’84) wrote for SNL during the era of Mike Myers, Ben Stiller and Dana Carvey. (Watch for his cameo in the commercial parody for Bad Idea Jeans.)
Oscar winner: Frozen
Best Animated Feature, 2014
Animator Marlon West (BA ’85) has his hand in many Disney movies—including this international megahit.
Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming, 2008
Antonia Tighe (MFA ’02) worked as an editor on the culinary reality show, where chefs face off in a series of kitchen challenges.
Oscar winner: The Hindenburg
Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects, 1976
This honor distinguished sound editor Peter Berkos (BA ’51) as the first Columbia alum to earn an Academy Award. Check out DEMO 22 for more details on Berkos’ remarkable career.
Oscar winner: Big Hero 6
Best Animated Feature, 2015
Baymax, the film’s lovable, inflatable robot, is voiced with humor and heart by Columbia’s own Scott Adsit (’87).
Emmy winner: Carnivale
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series, 2004
Jeffrey Jur’s (BA ’77) expert cinematography lent a dreamy, surrealist edge to this HBO series about a Depression-era traveling carnival.
Oscar winner: Citizenfour
Best Documentary Feature, 2015
Diane Weyermann (MFA ’92) served as executive producer in this chilling documentary about privacy and security in the modern age.
DEMO writers weigh in on their favorite stories and subjects.
“Adam & Sky Rust, Urban Archaeologists,” DEMO 20
Adam (MFA ’05) and Skye Rust (MA ’06) own the Chicago store Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities, known for its collection of strange and macabre items.
“Walking through Woolly Mammoth feels like a weird dream—but you never wake up from a dream and find out you actually purchased a stuffed squirrel wearing a top hat. Since writing this story, Woolly Mammoth has become one of my favorite Chicago spots.”
“Shooting Stars,” DEMO 19
Declan Quinn (BA ’79), Mauro Fiore (BA ’87), Michael Goi (BA ’80), Jeffrey Jur (BA ’77) and Janusz Kaminski (BA ’87) discuss their long careers as award-winning cinematographers.
“Interviewing these seriously accomplished cinematographers was a journalist’s dream. Yet when I interviewed Declan Quinn, the music nerd in me zeroed in on this: What was it like to work with a virtually unknown U2 on the ‘New Year’s Day’ video in 1982? Quinn hilariously recalled the shoot in northern Sweden: ‘We only had the band for four hours—they were on tour—so they helicoptered in, we stuck them in some deep snow, had them perform that song a couple of times, sent them away, and then dressed up four teenage girls on horses and rode them through the woods like samurai—they were supposed to be the band.’ The crew scrambled to finish the video so MTV could debut it, appropriately enough, on New Year’s Day 1983. The video went on to become among the most heavily played during MTV’s earliest, groundbreaking years.”
Stephanie Ewing (MA ’12)
“Dino-mite!” DEMO 17
Dino Stamatopoulos (’86) founded Starburns Industries, which specializes in stop-motion animation. He created shows such as Adult Swim’s Moral Orel and Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole.
“I could have written a straightforward profile piece on Dino Stamatopoulos, but I found the bigger story was the way Columbia brought together accomplished individuals from different disciplines, which enabled Stamatopoulos to build his own studio [filled with fellow alumni] and realize his creative vision. Interviewing his Columbia connections was a real treat. The Stamatopoulos they introduced me to was not just a devilishly funny, comedic/creative mastermind, but a surprisingly humble, occasionally bristly, full, complex human.”
Hannah Lorenz (’16)
“Top-Shelf Label,” DEMO 21
Nan Warshaw (MA ’93) has been running the small, but highly respected, Chicago label Bloodshot Records for more than 20 years.
“Nan Warshaw has managed to keep an independent record label running successfully not despite her ethics, but because of them, which is amazing—she only signs bands she truly loves. I’m passionate about music, so getting to pick the brain of such an influential and refreshingly honest person in the industry didn’t even feel like work.”
Audrey Michelle Mast (BA ’00)
“Peter the Great,” DEMO 22
Peter Berkos (BA ’51), an influential sound editor (and Columbia’s first Oscar winner), recalls his decades in Hollywood.
“Some of my favorite stories have been about film graduates who have ‘made it’ in the industry.Interviewing Peter Berkos, who’s a living legend in the world of motion picture sound, was truly special. My first interview of an Oscar winner! He had incredible stories—working for Orson Welles! Mentoring Steven Spielberg! He’s in his 90s now, but as sharp as ever and living life to the fullest, writing novels and running a writer’s group. It was truly a privilege to talk with him and write that piece.”
Sean McEntee (BA ’14)
“A Colossal Success,” DEMO 20
Christopher Jobson (BA ’04) turned his humble passion project—the art and culture blog This Is Colossal—into a full-time career.
“Christopher Jobson, and his self-made career as a blogger and online voice, was a living example of something I wanted to pursue personally. I was able to meet with Jobson at his home and spend hours on his couch talking about his job, life and path to where he was.”
Columbia College Chicago is a special place, but it’s extra special for those who found long-lasting love during their school days. We caught up with three Columbia-made couples to find out how they met and what they do now.
Heidie Fifield (BM ’14) and Brian Malnassy (BA ’09)
How they met: Brian proctored a vocal techniques class that Heidie took in 2010. “I thought she was so pretty when I saw her,” Brian says. “She kind of became my mysterious unicorn.” Their first date was on Valentine’s Day, even though they both hate the holiday. Brian took Heidie to Lillstreet Art Center, where he worked, and Heidie got to try wheel throwing. “Brian patiently sat behind me, our hands filled with clay,” she says, “and showed me how to throw (and cue the Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze scene from the movie Ghost).”
Careers: Brian is a gallery director at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago. Heidie is a freelance vocalist and songwriter who recently received funding for her first solo EP through Kickstarter.
Relationship advice: “Artists’ lives can be erratic, so set aside time with each other,” Brian says. “Cook meals together, even if that means eating 30 minutes before you have to go to bed.”
Jim Richardson (BA ’86) and Gina Walas Chorak (’95)
How they met: In 1985, Gina worked as an administrative assistant for Tony Loeb, chairman of Columbia’s film department, and Jim was a student. After Jim graduated, the two stayed in touch as friends, but when Jim returned to Columbia to teach animation, they started dating and married in 1991.
Careers: Jim teaches animation at Woodbury University in Los Angeles, does freelance animation work and is developing an animated web series called WatchCat. Gina works for a nonprofit organization that finds jobs for people with disabilities and moonlights as a copy editor. They have two children, aged 16 and 11.
Relationship advice: “A sense of humor helps a lot,” Jim says. Says Gina, “It’s the only way out.”
Tony Kemp (BA ’86) and Bill Barrick (’86)
How they met: At a Chicago bar in September 1984. They discovered they were both Columbia theatre students who wanted to live a fully artistic life.
Careers: Tony and Bill watched the old movie Holiday Inn and decided to open a hotel with a theater. They moved to Galena, Illinois, in 1990 and opened the Irish Hollow, a country resort and farm (covered in DEMO 16). “To be creative and live as artists together, we really had to balance the art of capitalism,” Tony says. Both perform, mostly in local productions in nearby Dubuque, Iowa.
Relationship advice: “We’re the infrastructure for each other’s creativity,” Bill says. “We’re each other’s greatest critic and strongest support.”
Hey, you! Proud Columbia alum! We couldn’t do DEMO without you (and we wouldn’t want to). We’ve loved telling your stories of growth, movement and progression—figuratively and literally—and we can’t wait for the next decade of highlighting your accomplishments. Take a look at your bad selves!
A Study in Success
Columbia College Chicago offers more than 120 programs, but what are the most popular majors from the last decade? DEMO did a little digging, and here’s what we found out.
- Film & Video (now Cinema Art + Science)
- AEMM: Music Business Management (AEMM is now Business and Entrepreneurship)
- Graphic Design
- Fiction Writing
From Argentina to Vietnam, Columbia alumni span the globe, living in 75 countries worldwide. Outside of the U.S., here are the most popular places our alumni populate.
- United Kingdom
From Sea to Shining Sea
It’s no surprise that most Colum alums call Chicago home, and that you’ll find the second- and third-biggest herds in LA and New York. But where else are our alumni? Our research shows that Columbia alumni gravitate to cities that offer affordable living, job availability and artistic opportunities.
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- St. Louis
- San Francisco
- Kalamazoo/Battle Creek
- Minneapolis–St. Paul
Sweet home Chicago, host to epic pizza, world-class museums and—oh yeah!— Columbia College Chicago. Predictably, the Windy City has the country’s largest alumni population.
Movers, shakers and moviemakers flock to LA to hunt out their big breaks. Many Columbia students get the Hollywood treatment while they’re still in school, thanks to our Semester in LA program, a five-week immersive experience on a historic studio lot.
The Big Apple, The Center of the Universe, The City So Nice They Named it Twice…No matter what you call it, lots of alumni call New York City home.
The Motor City is in the midst of an exciting revitalization, and our alumni are right there in the thick of it.
Come for the beer, stay for the bustling arts scene. A skip away from the Windy City, Milwaukee hustles hard to avoid being placed in Chicago’s cultural shadow, resulting in a Midwestern hub of creativity.
Ah, the Gateway to the West. With great local foods, a river view and the country’s only dog museum, it’s no wonder so many alumni end up in St. Louis.
For those wishing to escape the big-city clutter, the beautiful landscape and quiet atmosphere of Rockford, Illinois, make for a perfect place to settle down.
We can’t blame alumni for wanting year-round sun. And who could resist a magnificent food culture, a booming arts scene, and the lingering, magnetic pull of Full House?
This Michigan hub may be known for its primo spot in the pharmaceutical industry (and, of course, the Kellogg’s factory), but it’s also a welcoming home for artists of all stripes.
The Twin Cities boast an arts scene that might even rival the top three cities on this list. With the added draw of deep fried absolutely anything, we aren’t surprised alumni migrate to Minneapolis.
In his 40-plus years as an artist, Larry Zgoda (BA ’75) has crafted more than 1,000 innovative stained-glass works, and he’s still going strong.
Zgoda, covered in DEMO 9, recently completed a stained-glass panel for Grace Place Episcopal Church, located in a loft in Chicago’s Printers Row, and fashioned a stained-glass divider for a play area at the DuPage Children’s Museum. The artist, who grew up woodworking, also dabbles in furniture making, metalwork and even some tile craft.
“I love what stained glass does with its lights and environment,” Zgoda says. “I’m trying to create a whole environment.”
One of Zgoda’s favorite stained-glass pieces is “Blue Tree” (pictured), a panel he created over a couple of months in 2008. It still resides in his studio.
“It’s a really beautiful design,” he says. “It kind of epitomizes my approach, of looking for new treatments in the materials.”