Born in Champaign, Illinois, Sidney Hutter earned a B.S. degree in art at Illinois State University in 1977 and an M.F.A. in 1979 at Massachusetts College of Arts in Boston. He has been an instructor in cold-glass techniques at Boston University's program in artisanry and at the Massachusetts College of Art's School of Continuing Education.
Although Hutter was initially trained in hot-glass techniques and traditions, his principal influences remain the geometrically inspired designs of cubism, constructivism, and the Bauhaus. Describing himself as an "industrialist," he employs the mechanical methods of the plate-glass factory-cutting, grinding, beveling, polishing, sandblasting, drilling, and laminating. To ensure geometric clarity in his work, Hutter studied drafting technology at the Massachusetts Insititute of Technology's Lowell Institute in 1979–80. The artist's pristine sculptures are carefully engineered and contructed from laminated sections of commercial plate glass, using invisible glue. Light is absorbed and reflected, emphasizing purity of form and material.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)
Sidney Hutter began working with plate glass after a studio fire at Massachusetts College of Art halted his work in blown glass. Unable to afford many materials, Hutter lucked into truckloads of mirrored glass after an architectural flaw in the John Hancock Tower in Boston caused many of its windows to pop out. He used this to construct gigantic layered sculptures. Although it cost the builders of the tower millions to replace more than ten thousand windows, Hutter made a profit from the sale of three of his skyscraper-inspired creations.