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Nautical glass artwork on view at Kenai Chamber

Hunter Morrison
/
KDLL

Among the walls and display tables inside the chamber’s conference room, more than 20 pieces of Alaska-centric glass art are on view. Drawing comparisons to glass mosaics, gallery-goers may recognize some familiar characteristics of Alaska beaches — like shells, driftwood and sea stars — infused in glass pourings. Several colorful, floral glass pieces are also on display.

Kelly McCaughey is the artist behind this month’s chamber exhibit. She says she’s always loved the ocean, and some of her favorite memories are tide-pooling with her children in Kachemak Bay.

“I try to remind myself and my kids to look at the beautiful things around us," McCaughey said. "I don’t travel, so I really soak up the beauty that Alaska has, down from the flowers to the plants, so I incorporate that into my work. Little, special pieces are important.” 

Growing up, McCaughey’s mom and grandparents owned a glass shop, where she learned more about the art form. As an adult, she helped form Sisters’ Sea Glass, a Kenai Peninsula-based mosaic and glass art vendor.

In her work, McCaughey says she’s particularly intrigued by what she calls “treasures,” like rocks or small glass bottles. When her children were growing up, McCaughey says she’d find these treasures in the pockets of their clothes, and was inspired to incorporate similar artifacts into her work. Many of her glass pourings are also framed in antique window panels, which she’s received from old canaries and schoolhouses around Alaska.

Hunter Morrison
/
KDLL
More than 20 pieces of Alaska-centric glasswork — infused with shells and other treasures — are on view at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce

“I’ve collected treasure for years and years, so whatever I feel when I see the frame is kind of what I go with,” McCaughey said.

One of her favorite pieces on view is a vintage six-panel window dotted with shells, coral and bottles. Some glass panels are stained, others have been torched to produce a bubbly effect. McCaughey says it resembles something similar to a scientific display.

This exhibition is McCaughey’s first solo show. She says most of her work on view was created within the last few months. Some pieces were created as recently as last week.

Sisters’ Sea Glass was established alongside McCaughey’s sister about a decade ago. Unsure of her place in the art world, McCaughey soon sold her first piece to the owner of The Flats Bistro on Kalifornsky Beach Road. She says that transaction was the motivation she needed to continue her work as an artist.

“I’m thankful to have a small town and live in a place where art is appreciated," she said. "I love being a part of the beauty of art, and having a place to display it to get word out is an exceptional opportunity. I’m just thankful to my absolute core.”

McCaughey’s glasswork will be on view at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce through July. To learn more about Sisters’ Sea Glass, visit their Facebook page.

Hunter Morrison is a news reporter at KDLL