Seattle Aquarium volunteer and artist Kait Rhoads is leading the creation of a glass jellyfish sculpture to be installed in the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s (PDZA’s) new Pacific Seas Aquarium, which is slated to open next summer.
On October 27, Kait worked with hot shop team from Tacoma’s Museum of Glass and students from Hilltop Artists to create the glass tubing that will make up the 10-foot tentacles and two-foot bells of three giant glass jellyfish. She was joined by Dr. Chad Widmer, PDZA’s jellyfish aquarist, who is also a glassblower, as she and her team made the tubing that will eventually be threaded onto wire “tentacles” and attached the jellyfishes’ bells. Rhoads was assisted by members of the Hilltop Artists, a nonprofit organization allows students from diverse backgrounds to learn the art of glassmaking.
When complete, Rhoads’ jellyfish will be suspended overhead in the new aquarium’s atrium. “I feel honored to be able to create artwork for the new aquarium,” she said. “Researching jellyfish with Chad Widmer has been such an inspiration. My hope is to spread the message of ocean ecology through the wonder of jellies. Working with Hilltop Artists and the Museum of Glass will help create a community connection to the sculpture, as well as to the aquarium, the zoo, Puget Sound and the entire ocean.”
Kait has been a Seattle Aquarium volunteer since 2013. She enjoys sharing her love for the ocean through her vibrant glass art pieces. “Creating conservation messaging in artwork is a delicate balance,” she says. “How do you show people that nature is wonderful and we need to protect it without scaring them? If you can make them curious…” she pauses. “That’s what I aim to do with my work.”