Claire Kelly – The Curious Whimsy of Glass Art

(Above: Domine - 2020 - Featured as a livestream demo at the Corning Museum of Glass)

“There is a curiosity, which informs my work and what may be seen in my toy-like animals, and, most importantly, what they see when they look back at us.”

The whimsy on first glance of Claire Kelly’s glass art is unmistakable. Taken a step further, the sheer quality of her work and the How did she do that? factor begs a closer look. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alfred University, multiple artist residencies, teaching at some of the finest craft programs in the world, and studying with acclaimed glass artist Toots Zynsky, Claire has pursued the highest technical skills and creative levels of her craft.

(Above: Parallax: Busy Forest - 2019 - approximately 15 ¼" x 16" x 36")

2019 was Claire’s first time exhibiting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft show and to the delight of PMA Craft Show patrons, she is excited to be returning in 2020. “It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to spend time with the show attendees”, says Claire. “I came away from the experience full of energy and potential after meeting so many people who love my work. I love the amazing range of exhibitors and selection of different media. I also appreciate the scale of the show. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s large enough to offer a great range of wonderful exhibitors.”

(Above: Civil Twilight - 2019 - 22 ½" x 8 ½" x 4 ½")

Receiving the award for Excellence in Glass at the 2019 Show, Claire shared with us how honored she is to be recognized among such a high caliber of artists and added, “Being selected is just such a great validation; it helps me feel that I’m on the right path creatively.” She has been creating her current body of work since 2014, but has been working professionally in glass since graduating from college in 1996. Claire began her glass art journey at Alfred University and her work with various artists and institutions over the years has helped shaped her trajectory as an artist. She loves continually learning and finding new inspiration every day.

We couldn’t write this blog without asking Claire about the whimsical nature of her work and we found her thoughts to be not only descriptive, but also heartwarming. She describes her work as a form of therapy that helps process conflicting emotions in her mind, adding that her work purposefully looks like toys or children’s book illustrations as a way to talk about difficult subjects. She loves the effect her pieces have on others and sharing community that it creates. “The main reaction I get from people is that they feel joyful when they look at my work and that it makes them smile”, she says. “One of my favorite reactions was a woman who has one of my elephant sculptures and she talks to it. To me that’s just perfect because I do feel like they’re so engaging and have their own little personalities.”

(Above: Milieu - 2020 - 14" x 11 ½" x 8 ½")

2017 marked one of Claire’s proudest achievements with her work as she was selected to be an artist in residence at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass, working with a specialty Italian glass which led to an invitation to demonstrate at the 2018 Glass Art Society Conference in Murano, Italy.

A selection of the programs she has taught at in the U.S. and abroad include Penland School of Crafts, Pilchuck Glass School, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Centro Fundacion del Vidrio in Spain.

We are so pleased to share the joy of Claire’s glass art and invite you to explore her many creations HERE as well as at the 2020 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.

(Above: Recursive - 2020 - 10 ½" x 10" x 10")




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