Joanne Kricho Cooper, ‘01: Head of the Glass

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Joanne Kricho Cooper, ’01, uses bold strokes when emphasizing how often she relies on lessons learned in pursuit of her BA in fine arts—which is every single day. As co-owner of St. Louis-based Art Glass Creations LLC with her husband, Donald Cooper, her work is all about design, research, and being brave.

“Every day I use skills that I learned in Cherie Fister’s graphics classes,” says Kricho Cooper. “Flat glass design is all about color, texture, and shapes; the pattern work is all graphic art.” (Fister is now interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.)

The company works on a wide range of glass projects, from historic restorations to creating new architectural glass walls. In recent months, the couple was part of the team restoring the Old Cathedral in St. Louis. The artists were asked to restore a leaded glass window located above the main entrance to the church. The sunburst window dates back to 1834, when the church was originally built. They also created a new matching leaded window for the interior of the foyer, and put new glass in confessional doors.

Her art history classes also come in handy. “Knowing design trends of the time or popular art of the period helps me when designing for a historic project,” she says.

Don serves as engineer, builder, and craftsman, while Joanne researches designs, provides the aesthetic eye, and does the traditional kiln-fired glass painting. She also runs day-to-day operations and marketing. Steve Teczar, professor of art, taught her an important lesson about the business of art: “It’s difficult to let go of something you created, but you have to make a living and support yourself.”

Kricho Cooper often begins her designs with watercolors or colored pencils. Nearby are glass samples with different colors and textures and photos of where her work will be installed. When she gets stuck creatively, she recalls advice from former painting instructor Nancy Newman-Rice, professor emeritus.

“Nancy would say, ‘Just make a bold move,’” Kricho Cooper recalls. “And when I take the brush and make that move, it all starts coming together. I love making those bold moves.”


This story was originally published in the Spring 2014 edition of Maryville Magazine.