Rhode Island-based glass artist Claire Kelly creates adorable animal sculptures out of glass that connect to serious issues concerning the environment. Balancing on balls and standing precariously in boats and on peanuts, the little birds, giraffes, and elephants invite viewers to consider the fragility of the world and how micro-level choices can have a major impact.
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Kelly tells Colossal that the series of animal sculptures began in 2014 after a hiatus from her other work. The works were born from drawings and sketches she made as a creative outlet. Working with colored strips of glass called cane, the process and materials affect the size of the final pieces. The cane allows for complex patterns, but in preparation for the glass blowing process they need to be heated on a flat kiln shelf. “The size of the kiln shelf plays a part in how large the final glass piece can be,” Kelly explains. “The larger the shelf the heavier it is and the larger team and heating chamber I need to have.” While she does occasionally work at a larger scale, the artist says that size is not the most important factor because she is inviting viewers into “an intimate microcosm.”
Although she works with easily recognizable animals, Kelly’s use of color and pattern adds an imaginative element. “Depending on the animal and form I try to use colors that come right up to the edge of being conflicting but somehow work together,” she explains. “Color is so emotionally charged and I often find myself getting really happy when using certain colors in combination…I experiment a lot and have a sense of how some colors react to their neighbors. There’s a really sense of harmony and balance that I look for when planning a color scheme.”
As Kelly has continued to explore representational themes in her work, she shares that her has recently been inspired by creating multiple related pieces in a tableau. “It’s modular and adds interest from a design standpoint,” the artist shares. “I can create forms that interact with each other while telling a story about their little world.” To discover more of Claire Kelly’s colorful creatures, follow her on Instagram.