Kelly O’Dell is an American glass artist who creates stunning sculptures inspired by animals from different geological eras, mainly marine creatures, highlighting themes related to extinction, preservation, and origin.
Her work explores the fragility and beauty of nature, as well as the threats that human activity poses to the environment. She uses various techniques such as blowing, cold-working, and casting to shape and texture her glass pieces. Some of her sculptures resemble realistic shells, while others are more abstract and whimsical. O’Dell’s art invites the viewer to appreciate the diversity and complexity of life in the ocean and to reflect on their own relationship with nature.
Coming from a place where active volcanoes constantly rumbled and gurgled, I grew up obsessed with my own mortality. Through sculpture, my work explores themes of “Memento Mori,” as well as extinction, preservation, and origin. It is fascinating and devastating that our existence has so much impact on the delicate balance of life, our own species included. I hope my artwork could serve as a reminder, or “Memento,” of our borrowed time. The Ammonite, an intelligent coiled-up cephalopod, became extinct 65 Million years ago, leaving impressions in its marine habitat to fossilize. Today, we can hold this time-teller in hand, and if we take a close look, we can notice the great difference between us. I think about what we will leave behind when we are gone, and what index fossils buried in our particular strata of time will look like. Although my main technique is Hot Glass Sculpture, I use Glass in a variety of ways, including screen-printing and fusing, cold-working and casting, and reflective mirror mosaic. Supporting materials are often metal, bronze, and wood. I enjoy combining processes and materials to convey my message. Glass often evokes a perceived fragility. With wafer-thin screen-printed glass powders, I am able to convey the commonly perceived fragility of glass within a theme like animal extinction. In contrast, Glass can also be massive and impervious. By casting thick blocks of transparent glass embedded with patterned inclusions, I try to communicate hope in Nature’s persistence.Kelly O’Dell