A Life Aquatic: The Glass Sculptures of Kait Rhoads


IT’S NOT SURPRISING to learn that Kait Rhoads spent much of her youth living on a boat in the Caribbean. Her shimmering glass sculptures seem to pulse with the rhythm of the ocean. Painstakingly constructed of hundreds of pieces of Venetian glass, they sparkle, like sunlight on the water. The pieces shown here are a fascinating combination of traditional glass techniques combined with aspects of fiber art. Blown and sliced glass elements are woven together with copper wire to produce forms that are stunning. She manages to make glass look soft, an interesting way to work with such  a “hard” medium. The patience it must take to construct them is staggering. A great part of their success as sculpture is that from afar they look dragged fresh from the sea. Up close you are able to decipher the hundreds of individual elements. The pieces work beautifully in both directions.

Flight, 2011- 28” x 24” x 9”- Blown glass, mixed green and blue hollow murrine woven with copper wire on a steel stand.


And here is the detail-

Flight- Detail


Rhoads is quite eloquent about her work-

“The aquatic realm is the root of much of my work, the result of spending six years on a boat in the Caribbean in my youth.  In particular I am drawn to forms that describe influence and reaction, which is linked to my early survival mechanisms.  I see the Soft Sculptures as a type of hyper-reality or memory of an interaction with the world around me; an occurrence absorbed in my brain as a multilayered sensory experience that creates an emotional footprint.”


Red Polyp- detail 2007,45" x 46" x 19". Blown glass, mixed red hollow murrine woven with copper wire onto a steel frame set on a steel base.

“For the most part my work is inspired by nature; the end product being stylized or cartoon like forms made of sparkling faceted glass. The animal in the sea that I feel the closest affinity to is coral.  There are so many different kinds, both ridged and soft; their basic building block a hexagonal tube made of calcium carbonate.  Like bees constructing wax cells to fit any negative space, coral colonies exist in endless variation.”

I love the following sculptures where color has been reduced.  In these, the faceted glass captures and deflects light in a beautiful way.

Calyx, 2007, 14 X 26 x 12.5. Blown glass, mixed white with blue and green interior hollow murrine woven with copper wire on steel stand.



Major Tom, 2011, 13” x 13.5” x 5.25”. Blown glass, clear hollow murrine woven with copper wire.


“I think of the individual units; the hollow murrine as architectural elements fitting together creating a fluid or floating object, their orientation determining the curvature of the form. After a decade of working with the hollow murrine I am continuously engaged in refining their methodology of construction and in their production process. I create the Soft Sculptures in a pace that is slow and meditative, subtracting or adding material as the sculpture takes form, affording time to make the necessary changes. This being a welcome counterpoint to my experience of working for two decades in the hotshop, where speed is a premium.”

Rhods has several other series of pieces where she uses the same techniques to work similar themes drawn from the natural world. All of the work is fascinating and thoughtful. Worth a  deeper look, here ya go.

About Melissa Stern

Born to mammalian parents, Melissa learned to run with the gazelles and throw a javelin like a pro while still a wee babe. She began to make arty things at a young age which eventually made her virtually unemployable. The world is often too much with her, but she steadfastly drinks only one cup of coffee a day. For more fun facts please visit her web site- www.melissa-stern.com
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