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Government of New Brunswick

Stéphanie Couturier

Stéphanie avec Fougére 2023
Stéphanie Couturier

Stephanie is a millennial who grew up in the woods of northwestern New Brunswick. As a child, with her little square toupette, she loved to lie in the grass, watching the crickets fly overhead while the clouds made a play in the sky. Today, she still has the square toupette, falls asleep to the sound of crickets and creates her own clouds in stained glass, a medium that has fascinated her since she was over three feet tall.

Having started her young adult life as a nurse, she decided to create La Vie en Verre during a pandemic. Her works seemed to bring colour and light into the lives of shut-ins. So, there's more than one way to help and inspire the world.

Being self-taught, she has developed a style that stands out for its modern, abstract forms. Her inspiration comes from the human experience, nature, its beauty, and its decay. Her studio, a few steps from her childhood lawn, features east-west windows, two black cats and good coffee. Here, she works in glass, creating new collections as the seasons change.

She offers her work in several boutiques across Canada and at La Maison Simons' Fabrique 1840. She also has her own online boutique, where she sells her work when she launches new collections. Occasionally, she shares her knowledge by giving classes at her community's art centre.

What led you to become an artist?

I don't know if it's innate or learned, but I have ultra-talented aunts who have inspired me ever since I was aware I was in the world. I used to watch them go about their lives with their art as their faithful companion. They are colourful, opinionated, committed, sometimes rebellious, but above all and always passionate. Through them, I saw the different layers of human experience from the perspective of an artist's brain, and a world opened to me with each interaction. For a long time, I wanted to have a talent, any talent, but I wanted one to express myself, to be free and to blossom, like my aunts.

How have your training and experiences helped you to create and innovate in your artistic practice?

Other than a lot of blogs and YouTube videos, I'm self-taught. Although it's been a rather lonely journey, it's given me carte blanche and allowed me to create my own style by exploring the possibilities and limits of stained glass. As much as I was inspired by glass creations, I didn't want to replicate them. I went through a lot of self-doubt, trial and error and troubleshooting in my practice. Sometimes it works, sometimes there's room for improvement. Being alone in my studio allows me to compete only with myself. I perfect my art from piece to piece and note my evolution in the quality and elaboration of my pieces.

Both sides now 2020
Both sides now, 2020

What stimulates you most about your practice?

The end result! Stained glass involves several stages that can sometimes take a long time to complete. It's always stimulating to imagine the result and dream about it until it's accomplished. I always have the same sense of wonder when I finish a piece. Like a child in front of a lit Christmas tree.

What drew you to working with glass?

I've always been fascinated by all things glass. It's a medium that amazes me with its brilliance, transparency, and purity. Every work, whether in traditional stained glass, blown glass or fused glass, attracts my attention and captures my imagination. However, I've long been intimidated by glass artists, and frankly, I still am sometimes. I used to believe that only the "great" artists had the ability to work with glass, and it was through a little more research and exploration that I realized that stained glass, at least, was still a medium accessible to me.

What drives your creativity?

It's often from different emotions, needs or ideas that I create my pieces. For me, creating is vital. People often call my art a "hobby", a "nice pastime". But it's so much more than that. Yes, I have a good time in my studio, but it's also vital to my well-being. Just as a runner needs to run, I need to be alone in my studio, drawing patterns, cutting glass, or breaking my head with a colour scheme. It's often a kind of therapy, sometimes a bewitching activity, but always essential to my inner homeostasis.

How does the creative process work?

It depends on my needs. Sometimes I spend several days thinking about a certain theme or concept. For example, resilience, sunshine, dewdrops in the morning or mourning. What does it mean to me, what do I learn from it? If it's something that fuels me, I try to transpose it into my drawings. Then it becomes therapeutic and cathartic. Sometimes it stops there and dies on paper, but if I think it could speak to someone else, I create it as a pattern and turn it into stained glass. Then it's time to find the right glass colour and texture. That's a different kettle of fish! I can really spend hours making design choices as if my life depended on it!

Promenade 2023
Promenade, 2023

What is your long-term vision and what do you hope to achieve?

To learn new techniques that I can incorporate into my creative process. I've got such a big bundle to fill! There are also many other materials I'd like to incorporate into my work, and I dream of making larger installations and sculptures.

What have you learned about yourself and/or the New Brunswick arts community through your work?

I'm still learning. But the biggest lesson I've learned from stained glass is the humility of trying something new, and the courage to respect the material long enough to tame it. To keep going even if you feel small and impertinent. It's great when people respond well to your work, but it's also great when you realize that you're going to keep on doing it even if nobody looks at you anymore. My art doesn't always reach the public and it can be hard to feel misunderstood. Fortunately, I have good links with some New Brunswick artists with whom I can share these feelings. It's a community that's not afraid to help and encourage each other, and that wants to continue to diversify and evolve the art on offer in the province.

What do you think is the impact of artists' work in communities and in the province as a whole?

We're a small province and our voice is often muted on the national stage. Our art and our artists are our wealth. It's what tells the rest of the country that we're here and that we have a lot to offer. Acadian and francophone artists do a tremendous job of keeping our culture alive and ensuring its longevity. They're all proud of their roots and eager to share it, and often carry our culture on their shoulders.

Describe what you're most proud of in your career.

That I'm still here. Despite my youthful career, the reality is that the art world and small businesses have suffered a lot in recent years, and I count myself lucky to be able to continue doing what I love and not to have given up. There are plenty of contracts and creations that I'm proud to have accomplished. All this shared with downtime, hard times and a part-time job. In the end, what I'm proud of is persevering and continuing to create, whatever the result.

Pollen First Bloom 2023
Pollen, First Bloom, 2023

What advice would you give to people wishing to pursue an artistic career?

To create for yourself. Not for trends and what you think other people will like. To evaluate what a career means to them and not to confuse money with success. That having the chance to use our hands to do something is a richness and a key element in our definition of success. But above all, not to listen to me, but to listen to their own inner voice!

Stéphanie et Léon avec Couché de soleil Acadian 2021
Stéphanie et Léon avec Couché de soleil Acadian, 2021

Where can we follow your work?

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