Human Elements: Glass creations inspired by PNW marine life

Based on Lopez Island, artist and environmentalist Raven Skyriver breathes endangered Salish Sea animals into fragile glass.

Glassblower Raven Skyriver is inspired by the landscape around him.



He walks along the shores of remote Lopez Island as waves crackle over the smooth rocks and the tide recedes. He listens and watches, then gets to work. Skyriver translates moments like this into art, breathing life into fragile glass to create realistic and detailed creations of the endangered marine species that occupy these waters.

“I really enjoy that paradox of glass being this material that can last for thousands of years, [but] if you bump it off the shelf, it can shatter into a thousand pieces. I think that's a great metaphor for the natural world and our stewardship of it,” Skyriver said.

His intricate designs mimic life, like the curve of a salmon tail or the swirl of metallic color inside a pinto abalone shell. But for Skyriver, this work isn’t about creating beautiful objects. Rather, he is calling the viewer to protect these creatures.

He also taps into his Tlingit heritage as an influence on his work.

“On that level it transcends [being] just a creature and it becomes almost spiritual in a way, because it's something … that the people of this area have survived on for millennia. And it's something that the people of this area are also trying to protect,” Skyriver said.

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