Artist Bio: Zii Glass
At her workbench, Kim “Zii” Thomas, an innovative glass sculptor, finds solace amidst the flames. Immersed in her craft, she transcends the anxieties of the outside world, channeling her creativity into a new collection of glass sculptures titled “The Escape,” a surreal journey akin to the fantastical realms conjured by Roald Dahl.
Thomas, standing amidst the Urban Pheasant Glass Studio in Detroit's Russell Industrial Center, embodies a unique blend of whimsy and gritty realism in her artistry. Her pieces, forged from borosilicate glass under temperatures reaching 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, transport viewers into ethereal landscapes of imagination.
Her artistic process serves as both refuge and challenge, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. The grind of financial pressures juxtaposes with the boundless freedom of artistic expression, fueling Thomas' aesthetic with a poignant authenticity.
With a background in diverse fields such as dental assistance and special effects makeup, Thomas infuses her sculptures with a hauntingly lifelike quality, setting her apart in the realm of glass artistry. Her creations, from intricately detailed glass teeth to severed fingers adorned with vibrant patinas, evoke a visceral response, blurring the lines between beauty and discomfort.
A journey that began at the Rhode Island School of Design and meandered through various careers ultimately led Thomas to the world of flameworking. For the past 11 years, she has honed her craft, captivating audiences with her kinetic sculptures and pushing the boundaries of glass artistry.
Recognition from institutions like the Smithsonian American Art Museum and inclusion in prestigious exhibitions like Glass in the Expanded Field at the Hunterdon Art Museum underscore Thomas' impact on the art world. As she continues to defy conventions and challenge stereotypes, her work serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring artists from all walks of life.
As a biracial woman navigating the predominantly white, male-dominated landscape of glassblowing, Thomas recognizes the importance of representation and authenticity. Through her teaching endeavors, she empowers the next generation of artists to embrace their uniqueness and forge their paths unapologetically.
In the glow of her torch, Kim “Zii” Thomas illuminates not only the beauty of her creations but also the transformative power of art to transcend boundaries and uplift spirits.
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