BJ Katz, principal/art director of Meltdown Glass Art & Design LLC, turned her 1990 new year’s resolution into a reality─she learned how to blow glass.
BJ’s passion for art glass began with a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was inspired by the museum’s paperweight collection.
As a painting and conceptual art student at Northwestern University, and also studying sculpture, the history of modern art and printmaking, BJ was selected to meet the English sculptor Henry Moore, “whose sculpture has had a profound influence on my sense of aesthetics,” she explained.
Together, this meeting and her new year’s resolution to pursue a passion, led BJ , to enroll at Pilchuk Glass School in Stanwood, WA.
“William Morris, Pilchuk’s art director at the time, encouraged me to pursue art glass as a career. I’ve never regretted taking his advice,” BJ said.
BJ has several public art installations including an airport, a museum, a courthouse, a police and fire department, numerous recreation centers, and a library. She also creates artwork for churches.
“My artwork is often integrated into architecture, especially in healthcare settings. I feel that this is because it often references nature. It’s also used in corporate, commercial, hospitality, institutional, and residential settings,” she explained.
BJ’s art glass is incorporated in the recent renovations to the Scottsdale Center for the Arts and the Chandler Art Center. She has a torso entitled “A Walk in the Forest” from her ‘Winged Victory’ series in the permanent collection of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.
So, why glass?
“I love glass because it’s a solid, a liquid, and viscous. It transmits and reflects light making it lively and ever-changing,” BJ explained. “I like the challenging complexity of working with heated glass─the physics and chemistry. I love its transcendent quality.”
She uses kiln-cast glass combined with various types of paint, coatings and molding materials, and is currently working on several public art contracts, including the creation of lobby art for the new Denver Judicial Center.
Additionally, she and partner Chris Klein won a public art competition related to the expansion of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, for which they were selected to create a design for part of the façade of the hub station in Milpitas, CA. BJ is also working on creating art glass for an exciting contemporary Catholic church in Canada, and has been approached to do large art glass commissions in Europe.
She explained that years of hard work, persistence in adversity, experimentation, record keeping, and a fertile imagination have led her to where she is today.
And her positive attitude doesn’t hurt either… “I love new challenges and am open to opportunities. Sky’s the limit!” she beams.