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Raven Skyriver

Oceanic


Raven

Skyriver R

aven Skyriver stands at the edge of the hot-shop arena at the Museum of

sculptures of a size and weight that many wouldn’t dare, while preserving the

Glass in Tacoma, WA in the last quiet moments of the morning. With his long,

proportions and details that might otherwise be lost in the process.

dark hair, graphic t-shirt and wry, self-deprecating grin, you might mistake the young man for an assistant or apprentice. But that thought is banished as he leads

But technical skill alone does not explain the soulfulness that Skyriver is able to

his team into the arena and his cool veneer of professionalism and confidence

convey in his forms. That comes from the source of his inspiration: the Pacific

settles around him like a cape. Under his direction from the bench, his team

Northwest environment, the animal life of his home ecosystem, and his Tlingit

bursts into action: gathering molten glass on the end of a pipe; adding patterns of

heritage. Growing up kayaking, hiking and playing in the woods on Lopez Island,

powdered glass to the gather; standing by with torches. The doors to the glory hole

WA, the natural world of the Puget Sound has become a deep part of him. Skyriver’s

swing open, and the team wheels the enormous gather of glass over to Skyriver,

animal subjects are plucked not only from the Pacific Northwest landscape, but

who sits with jacks and tweezers at the ready. He tweaks and pulls, and the shape

from the myths of the Tlingit people. Salmon, clams, whales, ravens, and frogs are

of an eye ridge begins to emerge. Then, before the glass can cool and crack off

iconic characters that populate Native stories from around the Northwest, and are

the pipe, it is rushed back into the heat of the glory hole. Over the course of the

responsible for teaching lessons and explaining the world in which we live. Having

next few hours, Skyriver will patiently, precisely transform the hot glass into the

grown up with legendary Nuu-chah-nulth artist Joe David as one of his “uncles,”

recognizable features of a gray whale. And it will become crystal clear that this

Skyriver shows a deep respect not only for the ecosystem of his home, but for its

visionary young artist is no apprentice, but a maestro in his own right.

artistic and historic legacies.

At thirty years old, Raven Skyriver has already cleared a space for himself in the

In the Museum of Glass hot-shop, it is 4:30pm. After hours of heavy, hot, achingly

crowded pantheon of the Northwest Glass scene. His realistic blown and off-hand

precise work, Skyriver and his team have just completed the largest piece they

sculpted sculptures of aquatic creatures from his Northwest home are majestic

have ever attempted: a gray whale that clocks in at almost five feet long and fifty

creations that instantly elicit respect and awe. Learning at the side of William Morris

five pounds. As soon as the annealer doors close, the team high fives, dizzy with

during the final years of his storied career, blowing with Lino Tagliapietra’s team

relief. Skyriver lets his serious veneer slide for just a moment; he jumps two feet

in Brazil, working with Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen and Martin Janecky, Skyriver

into the air with an exhilarated whoop, looking like an excited teen. Then, it is back

has learned from the best glass instructors working today. His ability to sculpt

to work: thanking his teammates, gathering up notes and tools, waving shyly to the

huge gathers of molten glass on the fly with hand tools comes from a remarkable

applauding audience, and heading home to rest up for another long day of work

blend of vision, patience, audacity and improvisation. He has been able to create

tomorrow.


Blue Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted and Acid-Etched Glass, Metal Stand 23”h x 51”w x 22”d


Rossmaar Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted & Acid-Etched Glass 10”h x 13”w x 17”d


Grey Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted, Acid Etched & Cold-Worked Glass, Metal Stand 15.25”h x 26.5”w x 9”d


king Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 19”h x 34”w x 8”d


dive Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 36”h x 17”w x 27”d


black banded Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 11”h x 14”w x 6”d


“I love working with Raven because his approach to the material is so different from mine. His approach is organic, but calculated. Each step along the way to the finished piece is considered; pushing, pulling, heating and re-heating until the glass takes on a new form completely. A new mantra is born; one that describes a being so clearly that its personality cannot be denied.� ethan stern, glass artist


from the depths Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 16”h x 35”w x 7”d


Harbinger of Spring Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass 3.5”h x 5.5”w x 4.5”d


shape shift Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted & Acid-Etched Glass 4.5”h x 7”w x 8.5”d


endurance Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted, Acid-Etched & Cold Worked Glass 29”h x 43”w x 10”d


pounce Blown, Off Hand Sculpted Glass, Steel, Metal Brackets 47”h x 57”w x 7”d


flux Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 21”h x 30”w x 13”d


Raven and his team focus intently on a whale at Tacoma’s Museum of Glass Hot Shop


Stonington Gallery 125 S Jackson St Seattle, WA 98104 206.405.4040 / art@stoningtongallery.com www.stoningtongallery.com All Work by Raven Skyriver Photos by kp studios & Ashley Genevieve Live Action Photos Courtesy of MoG Catalog Design: Nicole Bell Essay: Sarra Scherb Š 2013 Stonington Gallery



Raven Skyriver: Oceanic - Stonington Gallery