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Artist fuses glass and bronze figures

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Alondra Campos
Staff Writer

Artist Kelly Akashi brings photography to life through bronze sculptures and glassblowing.

Los Angeles-based artist Kelly Akashi spoke about the inspiration and techniques behind her art at Claremont Graduate University April 11.

Akashi’s art consisted of sculptures that included candles, blown glass and bronze figures that incorporate the elements of fire, air, and time into physical objects.

Akashi bends, forms and twists materials into abstract objects that she uses to depict nature, or photographic images.

“I want to maintain a sense of life among art,” Akashi said. “Or better yet, I want to maintain a sense of art among life.”

Akashi initially began studying photography and quickly found interest in analog photography, a form of visual arts that uses a progressively changing recording medium.

From there, Akashi created sculptures based on materially engaged photography, where images included a variety of materials formed into untraditional shapes.

She moved onto candle, glass and sculpture making.

During her lecture, Akashi displayed images from her previous art shows located in different galleries.

“Ramen Candle” is the second candle Akashi made while experimenting with the shape and canvas of the candle.

“I wasn’t happy how erect the candle was,” Akashi said. “The only way I could make a non-erect candle was dipping it, bending it, and forming it. It is a lot of work but that is the only way.”

The candle appears to be dripping, as if it were stuck in the middle of the process. The shape of the candle is not precise, which is what gives the melting effect.

Akashi spoke about her sculpture of a coffee table, where she dipped felt in wax and made that the top part of the table. She used a trunk to serve as the base and even placed chewed gum under the felt to make the sculpture appear more realistic.

“If you get on your knees and look under the table, you can see the chewed gum,” Akashi said. “It makes it look even more like a coffee table.”

Akashi has practice in glassblowing and creating bronze sculptures of bodily figures, particularly human hands.

She said she strategically uses her bronze sculptures as pedestals for her other art to enhance the visual and metaphorical aspect to her audience.

“I’ve started to create my own pedestals instead of buying them because I realized they can give so much more meaning to art,” Akashi said.

In her art piece “Feel Me,” Akashi created an amber colored glass blown oval with a bronze hand that can be seen placed on top of the glass.

The fingers are situated to appear as if the hand is bending the glass while the glass is bent at the end of the fingertips.

By creating texture in the glass and strategically placing the fingers to look as if they move on their own, the art is given a more human aspect.

Gan Uyeda, director of the Francois Ghebaly art gallery, attended Akashi’s art lecture and said the lighting Akashi chooses to use within her art is an eye catching detail.

“For the art show she had in our gallery, Kelly had pre-custom lights to give different impressions of her glass art,” Uyeda said.

Uyeda said Akashi’s approach to lighting was something new for the gallery, and worked out great with her art.

“She is driven by curiosity and is constantly searching for answers to her questions,” Uyeda said. “And then she lets those answers guide her to new questions.”

Caitlyn Lawler and Madeline Arnault, master of fine arts students at Claremont Graduate University, are the coordinators of the art lecture series.

They said it was interesting how Akashi uses traditional techniques with modern technology.

“She bridges the gap between traditional and new tech,” Lawler said. “It’s a really great way for her to stay relevant as an artist in today’s world.”

Arnault said she appreciates the use of unique pedestals in Akashi’s work because it provides a different perspective to art.

“Pedestals are viewed as underrated objects,” Arnault said. “You think it’s just something to put the art on but Akashi proved that it is so much more than that.”

Arnault added that Akashi’s hand made pedestals add conversation to her artwork as well as elevate the standards of art.

The Claremont Graduate University features various artists within their Peggy Phelps Art Gallery, with new exhibits featured weekly.

Alondra Campos can be reached at alondra.campos@laverne.edu.

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