Before going extinct more than 65 million years ago, ammonites were cephalopods that roamed marine landscapes donning coiled shell exteriors. Now, they serve as index fossils that provide a valuable look into a geologic period far before our existence. Captivated by themes of origin, extinction, preservation, and conservation, Lopez Island-based artist Kelly O’Dell explores the ammonite’s elegant form through hot glass sculpture.
O’Dell spent her first 25 years in Hawai’i, an island formed over a geological hotspot. “I grew up obsessed with my own mortality, right alongside rumbling earthquakes and gurgling volcanoes,” she says. “It is fascinating and devastating that our existence has so much impact on the delicate balance of life. I hope my artwork could serve as a reminder, or ‘memento’ of our borrowed time.”
Her blown and sculpted ammonites curve and spiral gracefully, emphasizing the extinct creatures’ unique contours. Vibrant colors and intricate textures embed each piece, almost as if they were brought back to life. The fragility of glass mimics the fragility of existence, as she ponders what humans might leave behind when we are gone.
O’Dell has a busy year coming up with her first exhibition of 2024 opening in March at Duncan McClellan Gallery. Find more on the artist’s website, and follow her Instagram for a look into her process.
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