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images: Michelle Kurtis Cole
I’ve been attracted to glass since my grandmother gave me my first strand of beads as a small girl. The transparency, the bright colors and the play of light are what initially captured me. From beadwork I moved to stained glass, but soon found that I wanted to melt and form the glass.

The more I explored the material the more I realized its versatility and potential. It fascinated me that it could be just as beautiful when opaque or translucent as it was when transparent. It intrigued me that it could look like the glass we are so familiar with but it could also look like stone or metal. As an engineer I love the technical challenges and endless possibilities that glassmaking presents.

As an artist, I'm inspired by my heritage — Native American, African American, and Scottish-Irish — each with its own deep connection to nature. To strengthen that connection I immerse myself in the natural world whenever I can, whether it be trekking in the high Andes, canoeing through a remote Amazon jungle, scuba diving into caves far beneath the sea, or riding the surf near my home in California. Awed by the marvels of the ocean, Earth, and sky, I gather the imagery, feelings, and life force that feed my work. Honoring the beauty, power and spirit of nature is the common thread through all of my pieces. It has nourished my art and my being since I was a child, and continues to do so.