Sabrina Cavenaghi says when she discovered glass art, it was love at first sight. But prior to finding that love, she lived a completely different life. 

Born and raised in a small town north of Milan in Italy, Sabrina ventured down the business path, studying business administration at Bocconi University. After earning her degree in industrial production management, she eventually moved to Milan where she began teaching at the University and consulting with a local firm.

It was her first love––her husband––who brought her stateside to Los Angeles where she was introduced to a local glass artist. Sabrina hung up her business hat and began working as an assistant under the glass artist––and it wasn’t long before she was working alongside her, designing pieces that would be sold to luxury brand retailers like Barney’s and Twist. 

After years of travel, Sabrina established a studio and began working on a new series, incorporating her global travels and other experiences into these pieces. 

Read on for more of Sabrina’s story.

Was it a difficult decision to transition from the business world to art? Did you ever think you’d make a living as a fine art artist?

It wasn’t difficult because it was not a decision between business and art, but about my life. I quit my job in Italy, and I came to Los Angeles to join my future husband, Pierluca. There I discovered glass, and it was another love at first sight. 

I realized that I had a desire to express myself creatively, something that was new to me, and the medium was just the perfect match. Since we decided to live around the world, it became difficult to set up a glass shop in every place we landed. So, until a few years ago, I couldn’t play with it on a regular basis. Now, with the children going off into the world, I finally have the time to search for the shapes of my dreams. 

What drew you most to glass as a medium?

Its many shades of transparency, the endless possibilities of color combinations, the patterns I could create, and the textures I envisioned I could achieve, all fused into one single piece of glass. That was a click.

What is the most rewarding thing about your work?

The freedom to create shapes inspired by nature and the many objects and images that I like and research. I also love the hand labor involved in making every finished piece, the satisfaction of holding them in my hands––feeling the textures and seeing the details of a work that is very artisanal. Also, it has a vast array of unpredictable outcomes.

What is the most challenging?

Figuring out the technicalities of how to get exactly what I have in my head. It is a process from the idea to the end result that often has many setbacks. It’s never a given. Each piece has its challenges that push me to find new solutions and sometimes unexpected beauty. It’s an exciting, creative roller coaster.  

How did you come up with your unique style?

I always lost myself in books of ethnic artifacts, amused by the patterns of textiles, fabrics, rugs, jewelry and pottery. Nature has always been a great inspiration for me. Its profound beauty is an endless source of possibilities and ideas. I guess that this blend is what ends up in my work.

Has your work evolved over the years?

When you think about fused glass, you often think of the classic glass fruit bowl. I wanted to move away from that.

From pattern and color combinations on vessels to volume and textures, and different functionalities, the evolution of my pieces has been very exciting for me. Lately, I’ve been interested in lighting. I designed and realized some lamps that are very atmospheric. They create an ambiance. I’m also collaborating with my husband on new objects of light. He designs the structure and I, the glass elements. I like to explore and merge functional with decorative. Not drawing a line in between them allows me to experiment and grow as an artist. 

When you’re not creating artwork, how do you spend your time?

Remodeling homes in the South of Italy, working in the garden, cooking, and traveling. 

What drew you to the Celebration of Fine Art?

A dear friend that has participated in the Celebration for many years introduced me to the show. In the beginning, I was a bit overwhelmed by its duration and the amount of work I would have had to produce, but the possibilities and its potential gave me the push to challenge myself, and try to be part of it. As a first-timer at Celebration, I’m excited about the great exposure my work will get, and really I’m looking forward to being there.