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Kathleen Mulcahy  2020

Kathleen Mulcahy is an award-winning glass artist who lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Glass, “she says, “is the verb of my work revealed through the primal form of a drop”

Her glass drop installations incorporate bent and etched plate glass on patinaed or textured steel.  As an avid kayaker, she experienced a moment that changed the direction of her art. A storm came upon the river suddenly. In its wake it left her with a moment of pure joy, of wonder, that she works to recreate in her drop installations.  Her inspiration, drawn from the natural world – water and rivers, often titled after excerpts from poems exploring the boundaries and freedoms that affect relationships; people to people and people to nature. Nature is the reflection point of her work. Kathleen pushes the limits of the medium, merging sculpture with craft to create masterful works in glass and metal.

Mulcahy received a Masters of Fine Arts in glass sculpture and three-dimensional design from Alfred University. Afterwards, she directed glass studio programs at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh then went on to develop the Pittsburgh Glass Center, one of the premier public access glass studios in the nation. During this time, her own work — installation pieces, cast glass, and blown glass objects — evolved into unique and poignant statements. Kathleen received Fellowship Awards from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts. the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Creative Glass Center of America.  She received The Lusk Memorial Award through the Fulbright Foundation, The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.  In 1992, she was named Artist of the Year by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Pennsylvania Artist of the Year by Governor Corbett in 2013. Her works are in many public and private collections including the American Craft Museum, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Renwick Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution and The Westmoreland Museum of Art. In 1997, she was selected as Fellow of and Artist in Residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.

Mulcahy positions herself as an internationalist – a word she coined to describe someone who uses art and the making of art to transform communities.  Drawing on individuals of different backgrounds and ethnicities, the community comes together to make and appreciate expression and skill in a unique and challenging material.

Though independent in their personal art practices, Mulcahy and her husband, Ron Desmett, were partners in creating commissioned work that showed the breadth of their talents together.  They created, for example, 100-foot steel I-Beam trees for the corporate headquarters of American Eagle Outfitters in Pittsburgh.  They also worked on suspended steel and glass sculptures for Harrisburg Corporate office of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a glass block and painted wall for the Light Rail Transit in Pittsburgh and other public and private commissions.

Ron was also a partner in their shared community activism.  They created a public works project for the town of Carnegie that was recognized as one of the 100 small art towns in the country. They were sought after to create the public glass arts center that was a life’s work.  In 2016 Desmett passed away after a long battle with cancer.  Mulcahy continues their shared artistic endeavors.

Mulcahy credits Alfred University for giving her a life-long mantra.  Years ago, she walked by a marquee that described the school’s mission statement:  A liberal arts college, majoring in the human experience. 

 Her art touches lives – it speaks to the depth of humanity.


2013 (not) Water, Kim Foster Gallery, NYC

Habatat Galleries, 41st International Glass Invitational, Michigan2012Pismo Gallery, SOFA Chicago, Il
Habatat Galleries 40th International Glass Invitational,(catalog) Michigan
Mendelson Museum Award Exhibition, Mendelson Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA
Curious Harmony, Morgan Contemporary, Pittsburgh, PA

2011   Cycles and Symbols: Nature in Glass, New Work Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Millville, NJ
Mendelson Museum Award Exhibition, Mendelson Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA
Pismo Gallery Denver at SOFA Chicago, Il

2010    A Decade and Change, Borelli Edwards Gallery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, 100 Year Anniversary, Carnegie Museum, PA
Perestroika, Selby Art Gallery, (catalog) Ringling College, Sarasota, FL

2009   A Matter of Form, Cohen Gallery, Alfred University, New York2007Viva Vetro! Glass Alive! Venice and America, Carnegie Museum of Art, (catalog) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
New Works. West Virginia University
Truth/Beauty, Chautaugua Center for the Visual Arts. New York
Natural Forces, Kean University Gallery, (catalog) Union, New Jersey
Glassnost, Regina Gouger Miller Gallery (catalog), Pittsburgh , PA
Celebrating Connections: Contemporary Glass by Mid Atlantic Artists, Museum of American Glass, (catalog) Millville, New Jersey
Set Design, The Sounds of A Voice, Philip Glass Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Theater, Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

2006   Truth/ Beauty, Pittsburgh Glass Center, (catalog) Pennsylvania
25th Anniversary Exhibition, The Glass Gallery, Bethesda, MD

2005    Masters of the Visual Arts, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Five. James Gallery, Pittsburgh
Well Hung, Chandeliers Revealed.(catalog) Pittsburgh Glass Center

2003   New Work, Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon
20/20, Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Village, New Jersey

2002  The Maxine and Bill Block Collection, Carnegie Museum of Art, ’03
(catalog) Toledo Museum of Art2001Artist in Residence Exhibition, Artist Image Resource, Pittsburgh, PA
Hot & Cool: Contemporary Glass Works, traveling exhibition with catalog, (catalog)

1998   Breathless: The Figure in Contemporary Glass, Art Center of Battle Creek, Michigan

1997  Hodgell Gallery, Sarasota, Florida
Transformations, Society for Contemporary Crafts, Pittsburgh

1996   Regional Focus, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Parallel Visions, Kristina Olson, curator, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh

1995   Respect, Vicky Clark, curator. The Brew House. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Beyond the Third Dimension: Contemporary Pennsylvania Sculpture, Passions, Kean College of New Jersey, Union, New Jersey

1994  Made in America, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland
Issues of Abstraction, Allegheny College Art Galleries, Meadville, Pennsylvania
Across Borders/Sin Fronteras, The Art Museum of the Americas, Washington,D.C
Revised Context, Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon

1993  Contemporary Artists’ Series, State Museum of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg
Body of Work, Butters Gallery Ltd, Portland, Oregon
Degrees of Abstraction, 925 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh. Curator, Vicky Clark

1992  Artist of the Year, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniaard1978Invited Participant to the World Crafts Council, Kyoto Japan

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