Captivated long ago by her father’s glassblowing, Kelly O’Dell was involved with glass at a young age. Kelly’s family lived in Kealakekua, Hawai’i, where her father built himself a glass studio at their home. It was 1979, at 6 years old, when she remembers her father dribbling hot glass on the concrete floor, spelling words and names for the crowd surrounding him.
Twenty years later she graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in Honolulu with a BFA degree in Studio Art, with a focus in Glass. With Rick Mills as her instructor, Kelly’s experience at the University provided her the tools and knowledge to leave the islands for a much bigger world. Eager to immerse herself in the glass movement, Kelly moved to Seattle, where she assisted various artists in their studios. Here she worked and studied at Pilchuck Glass School and Pratt Fine Arts Center, and began to exhibit her work actively. She took the opportunity to work at Caleb Siemon’s glassblowing production studio for two years in Orange County, California, where she developed an appreciation for color and design. In 2003, the William Morris team welcomed Kelly aboard. She enjoyed assisting Morris during his last few years of glassmaking, and continues to work at Pilchuck Glass School during the summer and winter seasons. She currently lives on on Lopez Island with her partner Raven Skyriver and their son Wren.
Kealakekua, Hawai’i, is where Kelly O’Dell’s father built himself a glass studio at their home in the 1970’s. Kelly was 6 when she remembers him dipping a pipe into a furnace full of molten glass.
Twenty years later, Kelly earned her BFA in Glass/Sculpture at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She quickly moved to Seattle, working as an assistant in a handful of the city’s glass studios. In 2003, Randy Walker invited Kelly to Stanwood, Washington to apprentice with William Morris and his very talented team of artists. She assisted Bill at his bench until he retired, and Kelly continues to work at Pilchuck Glass School in various capacities, including teaching glass-making techniques, during the summer and winter seasons. Her work mainly explores themes of extinction.
Kelly has exhibited her work at the Ebeltoft Museum in Denmarkand at SOFA exhibitions in Santa Fe, New York, and Chicago. She attended the 22nd Annual Niijima Glass Festival in Japan. She currently resides in Stanwood, Washington with her husband Raven Skyriver and their 4 year-old son Wren.
“Animal extinction is occurring mostly by way of human-caused habitat destruction and climate change. It is fascinating and devastating to me that our presence as one species has so much impact on the delicate balance of life. Using sculpture, I am recreating the endangered, the critically endangered, and the extinct in glass.
It is my recent discovery that the inherent qualities of Glass hold metaphorical connections to my topic of interest:
-Glass is a liquid. This brings to my mind a great glacier, a supreme giant, which we may take for granted as ever-present. As the Earth’s ice caps melt and change, so does our environment.
-Glass is archival. Our times are changing at record-setting speed as we watch the graph of CO2 levels rise exponentially in one generation. Although overwhelmed by the enormity of our human condition, I feel privileged to be making real, tangible objects to mark our time, in our age.
-Glass transmits, bends, and reveals light. Our ideas about climate change and human impact can be easily warped through the media, politics and our own sensitivities. Science is undeniable; it offers nothing but a prismatic display of truth.
It is upon the basis of science from which we extract solutions. Facts and reports can be mind-dulling on paper, disengaging, impersonal. I aim to emulate in Art the things I learn from Science. This allows me to share what I learn, and to chronicle in a visually compelling way, which may be somehow useful now or in the future. My current project, “Critical Masse,” consists of a large grouping of critically endangered animals in white and clear glass. A glance into our possible future, these animals are meant to be understood as “ghosts” of our world.”
~Kelly O’Dell, 2015
1999 BFA Degree Studio Art. Medium Focus: Glass. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu HI
Selected Group Exhibitions
2001-2012 Pratt Fine Arts Center Auction, Seattle, WA
2007 Pratt-Pilchuck Artists, Tashiro Kaplan Building, Seattle, WA
Glass Exhibit, Northwind Arts Alliance, Port Townsend, WA
2006 Message in a Bottle Larrabee State Park, Bellingham, WA; Bay Area Glass Institute Auction, San Jose, CA
2002 Bay Area Glass Institute Auction, San Jose, CA
2000 Free Association, Serpentine Studio, Seattle, WA
1999 Passage: An Entrance to Exit University of Hawaii, Honolulu HI; Vitreous Spectacle, Gallery I’olani, Windward community College, Kaneohe, HI
1997 Glass: A Traveling Exhibition, Koa Gallery, Kapiolani Community College, and Leeward Community College Gallery, Honolulu