Demetra Theofanous & Dean Bensen Works

Demetra Theofanous

Demetra Theofanous has been immersed in the arts from a very young age, starting with violin lessons at the age of 4. With the addition of piano, ballet, and theater as she grew older, her exploration of creative mediums grew.

This thirst for expression was temporarily diverted, when she received her business degree from the Haas School of Business, at UC Berkeley. After some years as a tax consultant and CPA, she began to pursue her Masters in Tax, to open a private practice. It was then that she realized there was something missing in her work, and had a desire to return to her roots.

Demetra entered the medium of glass through the art of lampworking, creating glass beads as a hobby. She quickly realized her ideas needed to be translated on a larger scale, and transitioned from making beads to creating glass sculpture on the torch. After a brief internship in borosilicate glass, coupled with time as Dean Bensen's assistant, she spent hours experimenting until she developed the techniques needed to create her nests, flowers, and branches. While this time alone had its’ challenges and frustrations, it was ultimately highly instrumental in pushing her to innovate as she developed her body of work. The technique she developed for weaving glass on the torch is her signature, and the continuing basis for narratives in her work.

She expanded her knowledge further in 2010, when she was juried into the prestigious Higuchi class at Corning, learning the ancient technique of Pate de Verre. Many of her sculptures now combine this cast glass technique with flameworked elements. Since 2013, she has also had the opportunity to serve as Robert Mickelsen's TA and his guidance and knowledge has been instrumental in the continuing evolution of her work.

Demetra has been internationally recognized for her woven glass nest and flora sculptures, and is included in numerous private collections, as well as in the permanent collection of the Racine Art Museum. She was a 2010 GLANC Scholarship recipient, a 2012 Juror’s Choice Award winner from renowned collector Dorothy Saxe, a 2013 Glasscraft Emerging Artist Award winner, a 2014 NICHE Award winner, recipient of a Juror's Choice Award in an exhibition at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, and she was awarded the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Grant.  She has exhibited internationally, including at the Triennial of the Silicate Arts in Hungary, San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design, National Liberty Museum, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, and in the Crocker Art Museum’s prestigious Crocker-Kingsley Biennial.


Demetra operates a private studio in San Francisco, CA where she continues to develop her signature work. She is also an educator, teaching extensively at top educational institutions such as Pratt Fine Arts Center, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and Bay Area Glass Institute. Demetra was a 2015 demonstrating artist at the Glass Art Society Conference, where she also served as a Conference Co-Chair, and is President of the Board, for the Glass Alliance of Northern California. All of Demetra’s pieces are one of a kind, produced solely by the artist, and created in limited number.

Artist Statement

My tenuous journey in finding glass has informed my work, as I battled obstacles both internal and external, before finding this path. While some obstacles persist, I seek to express that need to be true to self, through my work.

My signature is a technique I developed for weaving glass, which allows me to create large scale sculptures by melting glass in the flame at a table top torch. Technique merges with narratives in my work, to express metaphorical bridges between nature and human beings. Inspired by the storytelling tradition of woven tapestry and basketry, I see myself as weaving with glass to connect the viewer with the story of the natural world. Through the delicate nests, flowers, branches, and leaves in each piece, I seek to depict the cycle of life: growth, discovery, change and renewal. I use the fluidity and fragility of glass to express the beauty and vulnerability inherent in the human experience. I also consider the effect of time and choice and their impact on personal growth. My eggs, buds, and flowers are key elements that evoke this notion of rebirth, becoming, and transformation of self. 

My most recent work is an evolution from nests, or habitats, to vessels and continues to build upon the notion of transformation of self. Container serves as metaphor, contrasting protection and constraint, and the ultimate consequence on our personal path and growth. 


Dean Bensen

Dean attended The College of Idaho where he graduated with a BA in Art in 1990.  He studied glass under John Anderson a graduate of San Jose State University and Alfred University.  His fascination in glass soon started a hunger for what he had been missing since his youth, an immersion into the exploration and development of his creative side. Upon receiving his degree he moved to Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho where he continued working in glass at a local studio.

In 1997 Dean returned to California to pursue glassblowing as a full-time career. Immersing himself in the Bay Area glass scene, he began working for many local artists.  Slowly he began teaching at places such as, San Jose State University, Palo Alto High School, Corning Glass School, Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI), and Public Glass.  He attended Pilchuck Glass School in Washington on scholarship and has been recognized by local publications for his excellence in creating glass art. Dean’s work has been juried into many shows and exhibitions like the San Francisco Airport Museums and exhibits at the Oakland Museum of California and Oakland Airport.  His work is featured nationally and in many private collections.

Early on, Dean started to develop a body of work that would become the foundation for his ideas based on the existence of the Old Growth Redwood Forest.  Using both clear glass and color, he focused initially on environmental concerns.  As his concepts evolved, Dean’s work grew further investigating the life cycles in nature, their significance, and the interplay between the earth and various species.  The extensive murrine patterns he uses in some of his pieces are the center point of this series.  Each slice of murrine serves to highlight one of nature’s footprints, marking the passage of time and a glimpse of history, the rings of life in a felled tree.