There is just something about the ocean. It reaches out to us; it calls to us. The ocean itself has always been a part of our lives.
It is believed the first documented written account of the ocean currents and tides was in the fourth century B.C. by Aristotle. Waves have long been depicted in art, such as the Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai. In the Florida Keys, there’s an artist and sculptor who is dedicated to showcasing beautiful waves with glass and exotic wood. The artist is Chris Catlett.
Catlett has been creating art for as long as he can remember. Besides sculpting, he is also an illustrator and a motorsports photographer. He isn’t from a family of artists, but his grandmother was into creating oil paintings.
Over the last 10-plus years Catlett has been dedicated to his fused-glass sculptures. He does a unique style of glass that really hasn’t been done before. He takes the craft and makes fine art out of glass with his technique and style.
Catlett said he learned the art form from artist Renee Anderson. Without Anderson, Catlett wouldn’t have developed his unique style.
“She introduced me to the art form and taught me a lot. I thank her for her help and guidance,” he said.
Catlett is a practical person, punctual and resourceful — things you typically don’t associate with an artist. With his tall, strong physique, he cuts an imposing figure. But he is one of the most humble and polite people you will ever meet.
Growing up in California, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed all around the United States. His love for the ocean was furthered by sailing all around the world – as he puts it, “a big chunk of the world.” His waves are inspired by memories of the ocean off the shore of north California, the Great Lakes and the frigid waters of the Antarctic and the Arctic.
“The wild waves and storm oceans definitely inspire me,” he said. Catlett said the service taught him to be patient with his art form.
Catlett’s sculptures are made of glass and exotic wood. A very simplified version of his process goes as follows.
“I start with a flat sheet of glass, draw out my design and start cutting on the glass saw,” he said. “Once that’s done the glass goes into the kiln for approximately 24 hours to make the glass pieces melt together. This leaves a lot of definition on the glass, then it’s put back in the kiln over a mold to give it some motion and the wave look. The hardest part about making art is for me to slow down while I’m creating a piece.”
He has taken some time off recently but now is fully dedicated to focusing on his artwork. It is hard to classify Catlett’s work; the wave sculptures capture many emotions like a small child would collect lightning bugs in a jar. When you see them, they feel exciting, slick and modern. You can almost hear the sound of waves crashing as you look at the sculptures.
Catlett’s sculptures can be found in Art Corner in Marathon, the Islamorada Art Gallery by Pasta or Chasen Glass Gallery in Sarasota. Contact Catlett at email@example.com.