Kathy Oda

Lowcountry Originals 2023

KathyOda0723July 2023 Issue
photography (top and bottom right) by Cassidy Dunn Photography
Art Photography by Jason Dowdle of Blue Sky Digital Photography

Art: Kiln-Formed Glass
Current Residence: Lady’s Island
Follow Kathy: www.kathyoda.com; @kodaglass

When and how did you discover your artistic talent? How and/or why did you choose this medium? What do you love about it?
Thirty-plus years ago, I had a very wise boss who recognized signs of corporate burnout in me and told me to find a hobby. I explored classes in various mediums, but none resonated with me. Then, I took a glass blowing glass and fell in love! I’m drawn to the illusion of texture and movement found in glass. And glass is shiny. Like a squirrel, I am drawn to the shiny factor! Although it became apparent my talent didn’t lie in glass blowing, my instructor recognized my passion and introduced me to fused glass. Embracing this new avenue of artistic expression, I began taking classes and found my niche. Glass continued to be my creative outlet throughout my corporate journey and is now my full-time passion.

As a “creative” you are unique. What makes you the most YOU!
Through empathy, I have cultivated the capacity to approach feedback with an open mind, appreciating that it can provide valuable insights and opportunities for growth. I recognize that constructive criticism is not meant to undermine my confidence, but rather to help me refine my craft and enhance my skills. I know who I am as an artist, and this harmonious blend of confidence and empathy empowers me to continually evolve, grow, and create with authenticity.

What do you hope people who view your art “get” out of it?
My mood is visible in my glass. I am generally in a very Zen and happy headspace when I create, and so I get a sense of satisfaction when someone looks at my glass and smiles, or they involuntarily reach out to touch it because they are so drawn to it. Occasionally, someone will tear up. After all these years, I am still humbled and honored when people choose to add my glass to their collection.

What is your dream project? Do you foresee it coming to fruition?
I want to gather other local glass artists, plus a talented photographer, to showcase a traveling exhibition of cold glass (stained glass), warm glass (fused glass), and hot glass (torchworked glass). Highlighting our collective work, the photographer would capture the essence and beauty of our work. This has been on my agenda for a couple of years. By embracing the power of planning and organization, we can create an immersive experience to captivate and inspire viewers.

Tell us about a time when all good vibes came together, and you rocked it—that moment you felt on cloud-9.
It was New Years Day in 2009. I had paused working in glass while I pondered what my next steps would be. I needed to elevate my glass from functional pieces to reflect a more artistic aesthetic. I pondered long and hard and finally developed a concept. I spent six months experimenting and broke a lot of glass in the process! And finally, I created a piece that rocked my world. I had high hopes for the glass I put in the kiln on December 31, 2008. I cried when I opened the kiln the next morning. It’s what I had been envisioning, and it had arrived! I’ve continued to refine the design over the years, but the basic structure is the same.

What’s something unique in your house/studio/collection that more than likely no one else has?
I have a Coca-Cola bear bank that my dad gave me for Christmas many years ago; I still love it!

If you could take a year off with no financial or time restraints, what would you spend a year doing?
I would continue to spend time with friends and family to keep myself grounded. I would also take a year off from participating in any art shows or events and just create a new body of work in glass.

There are a few classes I would take from selected glass and metal artists around the world. I would take the tips and tricks that resonate with me from each class and create a unique body of work in my own studio. Once my prototypes were complete, I would start scheduling/applying for exhibitions the following year and spend the next couple of years showing my glass both nationally and internationally.

What encouragement do you have for those who are just beginning to pursue their artistic selves?
I frequently encounter inspiring women who, in the pursuit of raising their families, have put their artistic aspirations on hold. My message to these remarkable individuals is to start small. Take classes. Pay attention to what resonates with you. If you like to do something but didn’t vibe with the instructor then find someone else, or just start playing on your own! But above all, just start doing something to feed your artistic soul! And if it’s not fun for you, then move on to something else! As I have journeyed through life, I have come to recognize the importance of listening more to my inner voice and relying less on external validation.