Detail from Elodie Holmes, Mobius. Photography ©Wendy Mceahern.

People We Love

An Interview with Elodie Holmes, Santa Fe Glass Artist

by Kevin Paul

A major figure in the world of contemporary glass, Elodie Holmes has been a fixture in the Santa Fe art scene since 1981. She founded Baca Street Studios — home of both her studio and her gallery, Liquid Light Glass — in 2000 and co-founded Prairie Dog Glass at Jackalope Mercado at Santa Fe in 2004. Holmes was honored for her contributions to the community in 2016 when she received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

What inspires your work?

Santa Fe Glass Artist Elodie Holmes
Elodie Holmes mixes many of the unusual colors she uses in her glass sculptures. Photography ©Wendy Mceahern.

I get inspiration from science, nature and the human condition. Science is a big part of glassmaking for me. I make my own colors, which gives me a very unusual palette. I love the physics of glass, especially the way glass moves on the end of a blowpipe. It gets hot and soft, and then cool and stiff. Some of my imagery comes from nature. My most recent work refers to bees, honey and pollination. I also use archetypal imagery and narrative, particularly in my collaboration with Enrico Embroli in our Guardian Series. I’m also inspired by historical glass techniques from Italy.

Whose artwork do you admire?

Locally, I admire [sculptor and installation artist] Erika Wanenmacher, [sculptor in forged steel and cast iron] Tom Joyce, [glass artist] Mary Shaffer and [glass and visual artist] Judy Tuwaletstiwa, among others. Tribal and indigenous arts’ abstract imagery, storytelling and honest narrative resonate with me. I admire Frida Kahlo for her deeply personal and raw portraits that make powerful statements. I also like Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, a father-and-son team of Czech glass artists. From 1886 through 1936, they produced 4,300 glass models that represent 780 plant species.

Elodie Holmes, Mobius. Photography ©Wendy Mceahern.
Elodie Holmes, Serengeti. Photography ©Wendy Mceahern.
Elodie Holmes, Serengeti. Photography ©Wendy Mceahern.

Has the pandemic been a productive time for you?

Not at first. I got so disoriented. My whole rhythm stopped, and I tried to recreate a new one. By August 2020, I had shifted into gear again and started working on some commissions and upcoming shows. I had the whole shop to myself. Usually, I have to work around the classes we give and my other glassblowers. I’ve been enjoying having the whole place to myself, but I miss my crew. So yes, it has become very productive.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve been working on a commission — a large chile ristra chandelier — for a private home. I’ve never done anything like this before. It has its challenges, but I’m very satisfied with the results so far. I’ve also discovered a possible new direction for my Aurora glass series. I won’t be able to explore that series more until I finish my most current project, the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens show.

Tell us about your project at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

For this show, everything is being designed and engineered to be placed outdoors. I invited metalsmith Caleb Smith to collaborate with me. With his help, I can increase the scale and durability of the glasswork. Our idea is to magnify pollinators, flowers, honeycomb and fruit to illustrate how important these animals and processes — from seed to flowers to nectar and pollen, and back to seeds again — are to humanity and every living thing in our environment. This life cycle is more important to the planet than most people are aware of. As artists, Caleb and I want to promote these issues in a way that makes people want to look, listen and take action for the sake of the planet. [The show, Capturing the Light: Glass Art Inspired by Nature, runs June 1, 2021–June 22, 2022. Other featured local artists are Greg Reiche and Frank Morbillo.]

What does the Santa Fe community mean to you?

The Santa Fe community is one of the best in the country, in my humble opinion! There is a high concentration of artists, galleries, art collectors, poets, musicians, dancers, actors and more. It’s culturally diverse, and people from around the world visit here. There is a large alternative healing community, as well as diverse cuisine. The mind-set tends to be progressive and active. What is there not to like?

To view more by Elodie Holmes, visit elodieholmes.com.

Kevin Paul
Contributor

Kevin Paul is a multimedia artist with a penchant for running trails. He is a long-time resident of Albuquerque’s South Valley, where he and his wife, Kayla, watch migrating birds and tend their garden and orchard. He has spent many years in and around the Santa Fe art scene.

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