(November 6, 2014)

"Imaginary Botanicals: Sculptures in Glass" by Kathleen Elliot on exhibit through December 19 at the Meadows Museum

SHREVEPORT, LA — The Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College hosts Imaginary Botanicals: Sculptures in Glass by California-based artist Kathleen Elliot from Saturday, November 8, through Friday, December 19, 2014.

Kathleen Elliot
"Questionable Food" by Kathleen Elliot

Elliot creates sculptures out of flameworked glass, using a variety of botanical forms including leaves, flowers, fruits, and vines. Her work has moved from the representational to the imaginary, in which plant forms incorporate human characteristics and convey a sense of alternative realities.

In 1991, an invitation from a friend to try glasswork in his garage became a life-changing epiphany. Elliot took to working with glass immediately and began teaching herself the art of making glass beads, which she pursued for the next five years. This introduction to flamework, or working with a torch directly on glass, was to serve as the basis for her future sculptural projects. Elliot took her first glassblowing workshop in 1996 and studied art at De Anza College. She attended the Pilchuck Glass School for three summers where she studied with leading glass artists Laura Donefer, Robert Mickelsen, and Shane Fero.

In 2003, Elliot began making botanical sculptures, drawing upon plant forms she observed in nature. Four years later, she began an on-going series of imaginary botanicals, which use natural forms to invent new species, including human/plant hybrids. In a painstaking process, she creates individual forms, colors them with glass powders, combines them into complex compositions, and anneals the entire piece, reducing the stress on the glass. The surface of the sculpture is kept glossy or sandblasted to a low sheen.

Elliot's reproductions of natural forms are highly detailed, very precise, and hyperrealistic; one might momentarily take them for the real thing. Viewers have been known to marvel at the mysterious process by which such precise realism was achieved.

Elliot's art is informed by her study of applied philosophy in considering the fundamental question of what constitutes "the good life." She proposes an answer in the deep human connection to nature. Elliot's study of alternative spiritual disciplines forms another strong thread in her artistic development. She studied with Carlos Castaneda, who wrote about his encounters with a Yaqui shaman. This experience, and the possibility alternate realities presented by Castaneda, led her to create works that reflect a wide range of new expressive possibilities. She asked herself, "I'm making facsimiles of everyday botanical forms, but what would the botany of Castaneda's alternative reality look like?"

Elliot currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area of California. This exhibition is organized through Katharine T. Carter and Associates.

The Meadows Museum of Art is located on the campus of Centenary College of Louisiana at 2911 Centenary Boulevard in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. For more information or to schedule field trips, call the Museum at 318.869.5040.