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Ammonites, cephalopods with coiled shells, roamed the seas before they went extinct 65 million years ago. They are index fossils, which provide a glimpse into a geologic time before humans existed. Lopez Island-based artist, Jennifer A. Smith, is fascinated by themes such as origin, extinction and preservation. Kelly O’Dell explores the ammonite’s elegant form through hot glass sculpture.
O’Dell spent her first 25 years in Hawai’i, an island formed over a geological hotspot. “I grew up obsessed with my own mortality, right alongside rumbling earthquakes and gurgling volcanoes,” she says. “It is fascinating and devastating that our existence has so much impact on the delicate balance of life. I hope my artwork could serve as a reminder, or ‘memento’ of our borrowed time.”
Her blown and sculpted ammonites curve and spiral gracefully, emphasizing the extinct creatures’ unique contours. The vibrant colors and intricate texture of each piece make it seem as if the extinct creatures have been brought to life. The fragility in glass is a metaphor for the fragility of life, as she wonders what we might leave behind after our departure.
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