Copper in the Arts

February 2017

Kait Rhoads: Fluidity Through Copper

By Nancy Ballou

Trigonal Crystal by Kait Rhoads. Trigonal Crystal by Kait Rhoads. 
Photo courtesy of Kait Rhoads.

The delicate work of glass and copper artist Kait Rhoads is deeply influenced by the natural world around her.

“My father loved sailing," she reveals. "I lived on a boat in the Bahamas/Virgin Islands from about age six until 12 years old. My mom ran a dive business from her 25’ sailboat. I experienced water and the natural world constantly; this inspired me to use flowing, colorful forms in my artwork. I love the aquatic and also appreciate the Northwest with its unusual aquatic flora."

Her creations appear throughout the United States at The Carnegie Museum, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Seattle Art Museum and The Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Abroad, her work is showcased at The Toyama Institute of Glass Museum in Japan, Glasmuseum in Ebeltoft, Denmark and The Museum of Glass in Shanghai, as well as other venues.

In 1993, Rhoads received a BFA in Glass from Rhode Island School of Design. In 2001, she earned an MFA in Sculpture from Alfred University in New York. She has studied with talented, skilled glass blowers and prefers traditional thousand year old Venetian techniques. In her Soft Sculpture series, she uses copper wire as a linkage system to weave together many small hexagonal shaped glass rings.

“I like copper because it is flexible and it patinas over time in the outdoors instead of rusting,” she says. “Other types of metal are too brittle or too stiff for me to easily manipulate. In the piece Trigonal Crystal, I utilize copper as an energy conductor as well, a magnifier of the healing properties of the blue crystals.

Over the years, Rhoads has purchased her copper wire from several different vendors, local and online.

“I once purchased copper wire locally from Alaskan Copper in Seattle,” she recalls. “When their materials stopped being accessible, I ordered copper from McMaster Carr. I now buy from Amazon. It is quicker and cheaper. The company that provided McMaster Carr with the wire recommended that I buy it online.”

Her live/work space is an 1850 square foot home and studio gallery in Seattle. She rents two other spaces in the building, one for storage and one for her kiln room.

In November of 2016, Rhoads was awarded a residency at The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA. Trigonal Crystal was shipped to Schantz Gallery for “The Nature of Glass’ at Chesterwood in Stockton, MA for three months. 

Inspired by a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, Rhoads began creating work influenced by her exploration of Trigonal crystal systems like quartz.

“I use a glass hexagonal building block to create organic flowing forms and describe a 6-sided hemimorphic crystal formation,” she reveals. “Within a framework of bronze plated steel, each individual hollow murrine unit is connected to the next only by copper wire linking them together. Individual pieces are made by blowing colored glass into a hexagonal steel mold, cutting the tubing up and fire polishing it in the kiln. In my application of the units to metal framework, I placed the color of desert sky onto the form of quartz crystal in a wash of opaque white ranging to intense transparent blue.”

In addition to creating jewelry, sculptures and vessels, Rhoads has spent years instructing. Most recently, she taught at Public Glass in San Francisco and Ox Bow School of Art in Saugatuck, MI.

Upcoming exhibitions include “Into The Deep” at The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, from September 24, 2016 until October 4, 2017. The exhibit opens April, 2017.  Also, from April 29 - July 1, 2017, “45 Glass International Awards Exhibition” at Habatat Galleries in Royal Oak, MI. She will be instructing a hotshop class, “Living The Dream,” at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. Other works are in the planning.

Resources:

Kait Rhoads, Seattle, WA, (206) 898-3667

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