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Wil Sideman
Preserving Coastal Traditions in Glass

By Tessa Permar

The grandson of a lobsterman, raised on a farm, Will Sideman is descended from folks who build skillfully with their hands, but he’s the first in his family to become an artist. You may recognize his blown-glass buoy lights at Beach Road Restaurant, but creating glass and steel installations is just one of the many ways Sideman shares his creativity. Whether it’s a commissioned light from his company Eldridge Co., a demonstration at MV Glassworks, or an opening at The Workshop Gallery, he brings a warmth and expertise to all of his endeavors. In his own artwork, Sideman shines a light on the nautical, agricultural, and storytelling practices that have sustained coastal communities for generations.

Sideman hails from a small town in Maine. After discovering ceramics, he saw art as a way to pursue a life of travel and learning.

Sideman attended Massachusetts College of Art and Design where he studied glass blowing and sculpture, and met fellow artist and his future wife, Elysha Joy Roberts. Sideman shares, “what I love about art school, and what attracted me to art in general is the conversations, the storytelling, and the growth that can happen.” After earning his graduate degree in Education, Sideman balanced a life of international teaching and artist residencies with stays on Martha’s Vineyard. He worked at Gannon and Benjamin for six years with “some of the most talented craftspeople I’ve ever seen.”

In 2020 Sideman became the manager of MV Glassworks, where, In addition to managing staff and operations, he founded their visiting artists program. He also co-runs Eldridge Company, which allows him to create lights out of glass and steel that are both functional and sculptural. In addition to all that, he co-manages The Workshop Gallery in Vineyard Haven with his wife. “All these different things came out of a necessity to subsidize my [glass] practice,” he says.

Sideman’s early pieces - buoys ringed with ocean salt, lobster traps, and a 5 gallon bucket all in glass, “were about trying to understand family heritage and why I started making things with my hands.” Today he is working on a sculpture that highlights carpentry and woodwork, with a key piece of joinery made from colorful glass. Sideman explores traditional practices that are integral to rural life on the Atlantic coast, and asks, “How do I elevate these objects?” In his work at MV Glassworks, Eldridge Company, and The Workshop, he achieves a similar goal: the elevating of local artists and craftspeople from across the island.