gallerist and glass artist

Paula Stokes

From the moment you set foot in Seattle, you can feel it: art is everywhere.

The thriving arts scene is a priority in this city—in fact, Seattle has been recognized for having more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Americans for the Arts. Gallerist and glass artist Paula Stokes is one of the contributors to this creative city. Read on for a look at the city through her artistic lens.

Q&A with Paula Stokes

You grew up in Ireland and moved to Seattle in 1993. Which place is greener?

The climates in Seattle and Ireland are very similar but I must admit the weather is better in Seattle! It’s a wonderful environment in which to be creative. The Evergreen State and the Emerald Isle are equally lush but in different shades of green. Both are home.

What first drew you to glass as a medium?

When I started art school I thought I would study textiles, but when I entered a hot shop and saw students working in hot glass, I was completely transfixed. I knew there and then that I wanted to work in that material. I may add that I had absolutely no natural affinity for it—I once spent two hours trying to blow a bubble into a solid piece of metal! I moved here specifically because of the glass industry—the talent and resources are second to none. I think what distinguishes the Seattle glass scene is the supportive community. It’s really special.

You work in both leaded and sculptural glass—what do you like about each?

I love how glass holds color. My blown glass works are studies in form, color and line. My work in leaded glass, inspired by my printmaking, explores how light moves through glass—luminous, when backlit in light boxes, or transparent in natural light.

Seattle has a rich history in glass art. Where can visitors see some of the best?

Traver Gallery and Vetri specialize in some of the finest artists working in glass. Foster White also features talented glass artists. Pilchuck Glass School has a great exhibition space in Pioneer Square, featuring work by artists associated with its Stanwood campus. Good places to watch glassblowing include the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Seattle Glassblowing Studio in Belltown, Totally Blown Glassworks in Georgetown and Chihuly Garden and Glass, which features onsite glassblowing November to May. The artistically inclined can take a custom four-hour glassblowing class at Pratt Fine Arts Center—where some of our best teaching artists work.

What other cultural venues do you frequent in the city?

Some of my highlights are the Northwest African American Museum, the Frye Museum, Woodside Braseth Gallery, SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park and of course Method, the installation gallery I cofounded four years ago. There are so many amazing places to see art!

Interview by Brangien Davis. Photo taken at Totally Blown Glassworks.



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