My work examines the connections we have with animals and their larger relationship to our world and environment. The result is a series of fantastic microcosms that bring a consciousness to their decorative status. My sculptures tell a story about the fragility and conservation of these small worlds as well as describing their role in a grander scheme. We live in a time when our smallest decisions can affect our environment in unpredictable ways and as a conscientious inhabitant, I am constantly weighing my choices and attempting to choose the lesser evil. My works are a gentle mirror allowing us to examine our contradictory world. I’m curious about what we see in my toy-like animals and what they see when they look back. Much of my recent work centers on elephants because of their unique role as beloved childhood toy, popular decorative figure with a strong history in glassmaking, and a perilously threatened species.
Claire Kelly’s work is an integration of traditional Venetian glassblowing and various cold working processes. I am greatly influenced by the unconventional forms and patterning of mid-century Venetian Masters such as Napoleone Martinuzzi and Carlo Scarpa, and contemporary masters such as Dick Marquis and Toots Zynsky. I am drawn to working with cane and murrini techniques and am interested in exploring the language of line, pattern, and color.
Kelly graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alfred University in 1996. She has been an instructor at Penland School of Crafts, Pilchuck Glass School, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Centro Fundacion del Vidrio in La Granja, Spain.
She was a demonstrating artist at the Amsterdam Glass Art Society conference and an Artist in Residence at the Tacoma Glass Museum and the Pittsburgh Glass Center. In 2004, she was granted the EnergyXchange fellowship in Burnsville, N.C., a three-year residency. She worked collaboratively with Anthony Schafermeyer from 2000 to 2008 as Schafemeyer/Kelly Glass. In 2008, she moved to Providence, R.I., to work with acclaimed glass artist Toots Zynsky. Kelly’s work is exhibited internationally.
In March and April 2017 during her residency at The Studio, Kelly experimented with glass produced by Effetre, an Italian manufacturer in Murano. She has learned about the glass from working with Toots Zynsky. It has “unusual and original aspects,” Kelly says, including the “intrinsic compatibility of color throughout their palette. Effetre glass color is formulated to be compatible and ideal for hot use.” During her residency, she melted Effetre crystal glass and learned more about the colors and took the opportunity to research the possibilities of this glass in the American market where it is not widely used for glassblowing