Stained-glass artist Sylvia Nicolas will receive the Living Treasure Award for lifetime achievement at the New Hampshire Governor's Art Awards on Oct. 21, 2019.
The life and work of Sylvia Nicolas will be honored on Oct. 21 at the New Hampshire Governor's Art Awards. She will receive the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award, which recognizes s a professional New Hampshire artist, in any discipline, who has made a significant contribution to her art form and to the arts community of New Hampshire, reflecting a lifetime of achievement.
Nicolas is a fourth-generation stained-glass artist, but that wasn't necessarily her first love.
"I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was 12," she said in a 2014 video produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Finally I started doing the costume designing. I went to Paris and studied the designing of costume because I was so infatuated, especially with ballet."
Her training in design translated into stained glass, which she learned from her father, Joep Nicolas
Born in the Netherlands, she emigrated to New York with her family in 1939 to escape World War II. Her father worked in a studio in Roermond, Holland, that was founded by his grandfather in 1855. He returned to Holland in the early 1950s to repair war-damaged cathedral windows. His stained-glass windows have graced many cathedrals and churches in the United States for decades.
Sylvia learned the art from him in 1954, when she was pregnant with her son, Diego Semprun Nicolas, who is a fifth-generation Nicolas family stained-glass artist. She worked alongside her father for many years and, in fact, completed his final commission, 13 windows for the Church of St. Pancratius in Tubbergen, the Netherlands. The church already held windows created by her great-grandfather, grandfather, father, and cousin. It now has windows made by Diego Semprun Nicolas as well.
She received commissions for stained-glass work at the Church of the Annunciation in Washington, D.C., and at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., among other places.
Since 1968, she has lived in Mont Vernon, N.H., locating her studio in a farmhouse and barn dating to the 19th century.
Her works delve into the passions, psychology and humor of the human condition, touching people with their universal appeal.
“Foremost, it is people I am concerned with, in whatever context,” Sylvia states on her website. “I’m a storyteller, really, of mythologies. I feel very much in tune with the history of civilization that is interwoven in this constant fabric which I am living and of which I am a part." She calls her work “a mixture of reverence and irreverence" while stating: “I would like to be remembered for my humanity.”
Tickets to the awards, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Capitol Center for the Arts’ Bank of New Hampshire Stage in Concord, N.H., can be purchased online for $25 each.
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