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Kelly O'Dell

Kelly O'DellCaptivated 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 winter season. Aside from making her own artwork, Kelly also fabricates the metal stands for her work.
Kelly has exhibited her work in the Young Glass 2007 Exhibition at the Ebeltoft Museum in Denmark. She also had her first solo exhibition, “65 Million Years,” at Vetri Gallery Seattle in 2008. In 2009, Kelly participated in the SOFA Santa Fe Exhibition, represented by Evoke Contemporary Gallery. She also recently attended the 22nd Annual Niijima Glass Festival in Japan as a teaching assistant for Randy Walker. She currently lives in Stanwood, Washington with her partner Raven Skyriver and their 2 year-old son Wren.

Photo credit: Russell Johnson

Kelly O’Dell    
Artist’s Statement: 65 million years ago

65 million years ago, mass extinction occurred. It is believed an 8-mile wide comet hit the earth near the Yucatan peninsula, affecting our planet’s weather in ways to make life scarce. Some of the last dinosaurs that roamed the earth at this time were the Triceratops, a three-horned bird-beaked creature, and the Tyrannosaurus, said to be a deadly enemy of the Triceratops. These huge dinosaurs, and those which passed on millions of years before them, left their bones behind to give us clues to the past. 65 million years later, I am replicating the ancient beasts in glass.

In 2003 I took the incredible opportunity to join the William Morris team. Daily interaction with skillful artists at work inspired me to try some of the tricks I observed. Flipping through an illustrated book of reptiles from the past, I discovered a multitude of features I wanted to try my hand at.  I consequently chose a subject to face the challenge of sculpting glass: the Dinosaur. What color and texture to explore, what opportunity for crafting detail in beaks wings, eyes, horns, claws, teeth, toes, and wrinkles of skin, what fun for a technical challenge!

Soon the Dinosaur meant much more to me than a learning tool. By creating these animals using glass as a medium, I am unearthing themes of extinction, preservation, discovery, memory, and self-reflection. By studying bone structures and fossils I often arrive at thoughts of my own mortality. Our existence here as a human race seems timeless, it is difficult for us to comprehend life on earth before or after us. I think collective mindfulness of our borrowed time here could contribute to a happier, healthier planet. As a human race, we might appreciate our time here better if we could take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture.  

The ammonites, for me, are clues of the past, objects of curiosity which are left for us to respect, study, ponder, and appreciate. Their beautiful shells were homes to animals no longer alive, but could be re-inhabited today by another creature, and used as functional shelter. These fossil forms represent a more responsible way of thought in just recent times: to “reduce re-use and re-cycle.” My next series will include plants and animals inhabiting the ammonites to convey this message.

A Latin phrase meaning “remember that you are mortal,” memento mori labels a timeless genre of art and philosophy. For some it signifies a reminder of religious obedience, or a tribute to history.  For others it suggests the certainty of death, taking pity on no one. For me, memento mori is a didactic reminder to work your hardest, follow your heart, and do the best you can at everything you do.


1999    BFA Degree Studio Art. Medium Focus: Glass. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu HI
1996-2009    Demonstrations, visiting artist, or workshops attended at the following studios:

  • Niijima Glass Center, Niijima, Japan
  • Pittsburgh Glass Center, Pittsburg, PA
  • Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle, WA
  • Alaska State Museum, Juneau, AK
  • BAGI Bay Area Glass Institute, San Jose, CA
  • Konawaena High School, Kona, Hawaii
  • Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA
  • Punahou High School, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • San Francisco State University, CA
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, NY
  • The Tacoma Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA
  • Wilson High School, Tacoma, WA
  • Schack Art Center,  Everett, WA

Exhibition Highlights

2010        SOFA NY, with Blue Rain Gallery of Santa Fe, New Mexico
2009        SOFA Santa Fe, with Evoke Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2008        65 Million Years, Solo Exhibition, Vetri Gallery, Seattle, WA
2007        Young Glass 2007, Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Denmark
2004-2006    Pilchuck Staff Show, The History of the World Gallery, Camano Island, WA
2003         Indelible: Tattoo Art, The Green Door Gallery, Kansas City, MO
                Featured Artist, OC Fair 2003, Orange County, CA
                Cash, Gas, or Glass, Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle, WA
2002         Orange County Fair Juried Art Exhibition (Featured Artist), Costa Mesa, CA
                Form + Function III, The Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana, CA
                Exhibition, LA LUCAS, Los Angeles, CA
2001        Form & Function II, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana, CA
2000-2001    I Love Mom, solo/collaborative exhibition with Nanda Soderberg, Roq La Rue         Gallery, Seattle, WA
                Liquid Love Deluxe, Hawaii Pacific University Art Gallery, Kaneohe, HI
1999        Last Life Lounge, Ceramics Showcase, University of Hawaii, Honolulu
               Featured Artist, MTV “The Real World” House, Honolulu, HI

Juried/Invitational Exhibitions

2012                Museum of Glass Live Auction, Tacoma, WA
2000-2012       Pilchuck Glass School Auction, Seattle WA
2008 & 2009    Glass Invitational, Museo Gallery, Langley, Whidbey Island, WA
                       Pratt Auction, Seattle WA
2007        The Art of Flight, Arts Council of Snohomish Gallery, Everett, WA
2003        Hearts and Flowers, The Folktree Collection, Pasadena, CA
2002        Day of the Dead, The Folktree Collection, Pasadena, CA
               The September 11th Retrospective, The GreenEggz Gallery, Collingswood, NJ
               Anacortes Art Festival Exhibition, Anacortes, WA
1999        Works in a Series and Art Exhibition, Fox-Kaltreider Gallery, Honolulu, HI
                Heart of the Matter, Pegge Hopper Gallery, Honolulu, HI
1998        Japanese Chamber of Commerce Show, Amfac Bldg, Honolulu, HI
               Student Show and Competition, Kitrell-Riffkind Gallery, Dallas, TX
1997        Pin-Up Artists 1977-1997, Queen Emma Gallery, and Honolulu HI
               College Art Exhibition, Amfac Bldg, Honolulu, HI

Selected Group Exhibitions

2001-2012    Pratt Fine Arts Center Auction, Seattle, WA    
2011        Group Exhibition, Gallery By the Sea, Stanwood, WA
2008        World Glass Exhibition, Traver Gallery, Tacoma, WA
               Crossing Boundaries: eight artists in glass, Manitou Galleries, Santa Fe, NM
               On the Road, Museo Gallery, Langley, Whidbey Island, WA
2007        Filette, Viscosity Gallery, Seattle, WA
               Pratt-Pilchuck Artists, Tashiro Kaplan Building, Seattle, WA
               Glass Exhibit, Northwind Arts Alliance, Port Townsend, WA
2006        Message in a Bottle (Peter Ivy’s class underwater art project), 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 (BFA Degree Show), Main Gallery, University of Hawaii, Honolulu HI
                Vitreous Spectacle, Gallery I’olani, Windward community College, Kaneohe, HI
1998        Pilchuck Class Show, Bubba Mavis Gallery, Seattle, WA
1997        Glass: A Traveling Exhibition, Koa Gallery, Kapiolani Community College, and Leeward Community College Gallery, Honolulu
1996        The Mold and the Molded, Commons Gallery, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI

Awards Scholarships Publications

2009        Glass: Urban Glass Quarterly, featured article: Morris Code (article on William Morris crew members pursuing their own careers after Morris’ retirement). Winter Issue.
2007        Young Glass 2007 Publication (Exhibition Book) 151 pp. Printed by deFacto,Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Denmark.            
                Creative Nature, film.  Documentary of William Morris.
                Team Chihuly, Book. 223pp. Printed by Portland Press, Seattle.
 2006        Chihuly in Tacoma, video. Documentary filmed at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, Chihuly reunites with artists from important periods of his development.
               Saxe Award and Corning Award Nominations, Pilchuck Glass School
               Partial Scholarship for Peter Ivy class, Pilchuck Glass School
2003-2005    Saxe Award Nomination, Pilchuck Glass School
2004        Partial Scholarship for Pino Signoretto/ Amber Hauch class, Pilchuck Glass School
2004        Skin&Ink Tattoo Magazine, featured article, Spring Issue
2003        Angeleno Magazine (Los Angeles), featured artwork, March Issue
2002        September 11th Retrospective Exhibition Award, The GreenEggz Gallery, Collingswood, NJ
2001        Juxtapoz Magazine featured article on Roq La Rue gallery 2000-2001 opening of exhibition “I Love Mom,” April/May issue
1998        Travel Grant (toward Pilchuck studies), Associated Students of the University of Hawaii
               Geraldine P. Clark Memorial Fellowship, University of Hawaii Art Dept
1997        Henry Clark Pilchuck Scholarship, University of Hawaii Art Dept
               Outstanding Student of the Year Award, University of Hawaii Art Dept
1997-1998    Corning Award Nomination, Pilchuck Glass School
1996-1999    Sybil Heide Scholarship, University of Hawaii Art Dept
1994-1998    Walter F. Blaine Scholarship, Goldman Sachs, Inc., San Francisco, CA

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