"Dedicated Mission in Glass"
Norbert Sattler is a man with a mission. It began in Germany, when as a young man he began an apprenticeship in a stained glass studio - it was the beginning of his life long love for the medium of glass. He went on to complete his formal training and practicum working for several studios in Germany and Switzerland. The last studio that he worked for was the world renowned Meyers of Munich. There he started working with fine artists and developed a passion for creating contemporary art with them.
He went on to open and build his own studio with the help of this wife and partner, Helga in 1980. It was not easy to compete with well-established studios but he was successful.
Several important artists followed him and continued to work with him creating art for churches, homes and public spaces.
Then in 1993, he and Helga decided to immigrate to Canada and they started all over again. They have built their business and studio space for the second time, with very hard work and much determination. The result is a beautiful studio on the LaHave River near Bridgewater.
Norbert's expertise has become known throughout North America particularly since his studio successfully completed the major restoration project at St. John's Anglican in Lunenburg. This project took 2 ½ years to complete and the St. John's Restoration Committee and all who have seen it have sung the praises of the studio. Restoration is technically demanding, but all his years of formal training and experience means he can confidently offer work second to none in this country.
The restoration work that they do, gives the
business stability, but Norbert's first love is fine art and it
is this part of the studio work that requires enormous effort.
He and Helga are constantly educating clients and artists - encouraging
them to look at the artwork that they have created and to accept
and create art works in glass. To this end, they have an annual
exhibition, which takes a great amount of work, time and expense,
but they are determined to show that glass can be a medium for
artists like any other. ( next column )
Often artists work alone and are unfamiliar with the concept of working in another media with the technical assistance that the Sattler's studio provides. Norbert's role is to facilitate the art making process to help artists fulfill their vision and intent. In their well-equipped studio, he puts his knowledge and skills at the artist's disposal and will also improvise, to find the easiest way for the artist to create - whether by creating new tools for a specific effect or suggesting the use of various techniques such as sandblasting, etching, screening, laminating, etc. The respect and sensitivity afforded each artist's vision is testament to the passion Norbert has for this kind of collaboration. In this supportive and stimulating environment, artists have a unique opportunity to express themselves in a new medium.
Besides a number of very fine well-known German artists, in Canada they have worked with the most famous Canadian Inuit artist, Kenojuak Ashevak and have interpreted in glass, the work of other Inuit artists from Cape Dorset. As well, several talented artists well known in Nova Scotia, such as painters, Wayne Boucher, Don Pentz, and Susan Feindel have made work with Norbert. He also has a close association with the artist and former professor at NASCAD, Richard Mueller and Florida artist, Craig Rubadoux who resides in Kingsburg.
It still remains an ongoing process to convince people that art glass is more than a repetition of medieval iconography and that it can be contemporary art. Unfortunately the level of artistry in this medium is often substandard, which is another reason why working with good artists is so important to the Sattler's. Although there are examples of fine art made in this medium in Europe since the early 1900's, not much has changed in its general public perception; the last well-known period was that of the Arts and Crafts movement. Despite its potential and perhaps because of its intrinsic beauty, those old associations are difficult to change, but if anyone can do it, it will be Norbert, with the dedicated help of Helga, and now their son, Fabian.