Elijah Kell is a Mint Hill-based Charlotte NC glass artist who specializes in bold, beautiful pieces of glass art. This is an art form that he has practiced since he was 10 years old. Elijah, now a senior in high school, has since cemented his desire for a life spent continuing to explore the medium.
Much of this has come from self-study and experimentation, and Elijah notes that, as a person with dyslexia, “imagery plays a huge role in [his] life.”
Today, you can find Elijah represented at Juelerye Fine Gifts and Art of Mooresville. His art is on display at Galleries 811 in Charlotte, and he will also have a solo exhibition debuting this October at the Artisan’s Palate Gallery. At Galleries 811, Charlotte NC glass artist Elijah actually has his own “micro-gallery,” Kell Glass Gallery. This has given him the opportunity to maintain a home base for interacting with current clients and meeting new ones alongside other professional artists.
What drew you to creating art initially? Did someone teach you how to be a Charlotte NC glass artist?
I was struggling in school because I had learning disabilities, dyslexia and processing delays, so school was really hard. I got picked on and bullied by other kids because I was different.
My parents noticed that art always calmed me and helped me deal with my stress. They saw how much I loved it, and they hired a friend of ours to give me weekly art lessons. Once I made my very first glass piece, I was completely hooked.
Why are you attracted to sculptural or multidimensional art?
I think sculpture and multidimensional art speak to me because I am naturally a tactile learner. I’ve always been someone who tackles the world around me through experience and more of a sensory lens, instead of using words that describe what’s going on. For me, there’s nothing like working to create something three-dimensional from a concept or design sketch. The challenge is to use my mind to imagine it one way, and my hands to fabricate it first into a flat state and then into a sculptural one. It’s kind of like I have a 3D printer in my brain.
Where do you find your inspiration or sparks for new ideas as a Charlotte NC glass artist?
From a design standpoint, nature is a big inspiration for me. I especially like challenging myself to figure out how I can create different types of flowers in glass. I love that there are endless possibilities for shapes and color combinations. The intricate details are always an artistic challenge to capture. I’m also drawn to abstract work. The idea that two different people can see the exact same art piece and have two totally different viewpoints about it intrigues me. There’s so much room for personal interpretation and impact. Actually, nine out of ten times the artist probably felt or envisioned something else entirely when they created it.
What do you hope to do with your art and future career?
After I graduate high school, I want to do some intensive studies in glass. I would even take some courses in other mediums like metal and wood working. I’m hoping I can do this somewhere like the Penland School near Asheville. I want to learn as much as I can and develop my craft further. Also, I have ideas for combining my love for glass with mixed media. My long term goal is also to open my own art gallery. So for right now, my plan is to spend a year after high school focused solely on growing artistically and building my business. After that, I plan to enroll at CPCC as a part-time college student and work towards a degree in Art History.
Do you take commissioned work as a Charlotte NC glass artist?
I do a lot of commissions, and those are some of my favorite works to create. I love how meaningful the process is. Being able to capture someone’s personal idea, feeling, memory or whatever their inspiration may be into a piece of art is always one of the most rewarding things to do. It never gets old seeing their reactions. It just makes me feel honored to be able to give someone that kind of joy.