Kathleen Mulcahy 2020

Kathleen Mulcahy is an award winning glass artist who lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "Glass," she says, "is the verb of my work revealed through the primal form of a drop".

Her glass drop installations incorporate bent and etched plate glass on patinaed or textured steel. As an avid kayaker, she experienced a moment that changed the direction of her art. A storm came upon the river suddenly. In its wake it left her with a moment of pure joy, of wonder, that she works to recreate in her drop installations. Her inspiration, drawn from the natural world – water and rivers, often titled after excerpts from poems exploring the boundaries and freedoms that affect relationships; people to people and people to nature. Nature is the reflection point of her work. Kathleen pushes the limits of the medium, merging sculpture with craft to create masterful works in glass and metal.

Mulcahy received a Masters of Fine Arts in glass sculpture and three-dimensional design from Alfred University. Afterwards, she directed glass studio programs at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh then went on to develop the Pittsburgh Glass Center, one of the premier public access glass studios in the nation. During this time, her own work – installation pieces, cast glass, and blown glass objects – evolved into unique and poignant statements. Kathleen received Fellowship Awards from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts. the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Creative Glass Center of America. She received The Lusk Memorial Award through the Fulbright Foundation, The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. In 1992, she was named Artist of the Year by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Pennsylvania Artist of the Year by Governor Corbett in 2013. Her works are in many public and private collections including the American Craft Museum, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Renwick Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution and The Westmoreland Museum of Art. In 1997, she was selected as Fellow of and Artist in Residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. 

Mulcahy positions herself as an intentionalist – a word she coined to describe someone who uses art and the making of art to transform communities. Drawing on individuals of different backgrounds and ethnicities, the community comes together to make and appreciate expression and skill in a unique and challenging material.

Though independent in their personal art practices, Mulcahy and her husband, Ron Desmett, were partners in creating commissioned work that showed the breadth of their talents together. They created, for example, 100 foot steel I-Beam trees for the corporate headquarters of American Eagle Outfitters in Pittsburgh. They also worked on suspended steel and glass sculptures for Harrisburg Corporate office of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a glass block and painted wall for the Light Rail Transit in Pittsburgh and other public and private commissions.

Ron was also a partner in their shared community activism. They created a public works project for the town of Carnegie that was recognized as one of the 100 small art towns in the country. They were sought after to create the public glass arts center that was a life’s work. In 2016 Desmett passed away after a long battle with cancer. Mulcahy continues their shared artistic endeavors.

Mulcahy credits Alfred University for giving her a life-long mantra. Years ago she walked by a marquee that described the school’s mission statement: A liberal arts college, majoring in the human experience.

Her art touches lives – it speaks to the depth of humanity.

Selected Exhibitions

2019 VERVE. Group Exhibition, Kim Foster Gallery, New York, New York
2018 I Am Water. Kim Foster Gallery, New York, New York
Habatat Galleries, Sarasota, Fl.
46th International Glass Invitational Award Exhibition at Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, MI.
2017 Of Art & Craft, The Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, Connecticut
Habatat Galleries, SOFA Chicago, Exhibition
45th International Glass Invitational Award Exhibition at Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan
2016 Steady Flow of Cool, Alfstad& Gallery, Sarasota, Florida
Opposites Attract : The Works of Syl Damianos and Kathleen Mulcahy, Westmoreland Museum of Art, Greensburg, PA Exhibition Award
Beauty in the Abstract: Artists Expressions in Glass, Long Boat Key Center for the Arts, Sarasota, Florida
44th Invitational Exhibition, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan
Beauty in the Abstract, Habatat Galleries, Longboat Key Art Center, Florida
Relief. Kim Foster Gallery, New York City
2015 Glass: A Delicate Balance. Kim Foster Gallery, New York City
SOFA Exhibition, Habatat Galleries, Chicago, Il
43rd Invitational Exhibition, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan
Karen Echt Gallery Invitational, Chicago, Il
2014 42nd Invitational Exhibition, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan
Karen Echt Gallery Invitational, Chicago, Il
2013 (not) Water, Kim Foster Gallery, New York
41th Invitational Glass Exhibition, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan
SOFA Exhibition, Pismo Gallery, Chicago, Il
2012 SOFA Chicago, Pismo Gallery, Chicago, Il
40th Invitational Glass Exhibition, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan
2011 Cycles and Symbols: Nature in Glass, Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Millville, NJ
New Work, Mendelson Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA
2010 A Decade and Change, Borelli Edwards Gallery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Perestroika, Selby Art Gallery, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL
2009 A Matter of Form, Cohen Gallery, Alfred University, New York
2007 Viva Vetro! Glass Alive! Venice and America, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Truth/Beauty, Chautaugua Center for the Visual Arts. New York
Glassnost, Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh
Celebrating Connections: Contemporary Glass by Mid Atlantic Artists, Museum of American Glass, Millville, New Jersey
Set Design, The Sounds of A Voice, Philip Glass Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Theater, Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
2006 Truth/ Beauty, Pittsburgh Glass Center, Pennsylvania
25th Anniversary Exhibition, The Glass Gallery, Bethesda, MD
2005 Masters of the Visual Arts, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Well Hung, Chandeliers Reviealed. Pittsburgh Glass Center
2003 New Work, Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon
20/20, Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Village, New Jersey
2002 The Maxine and Bill Block Collection, Carnegie Museum of Art, '03 Toledo Museum of Art
2001 Artist in Residence Exhibition, Artist Image Resource, Pittsburgh, PA
Hot & Cool: Contemporary Glass Works, traveling exhibition with catalog, 1999-2001
1998 Breathless: The Figure in Contemporary Glass, Art Center of Battle Creek, Michigan
1997 Transformations, Society for Contemporary Crafts, Pittsburgh
Parallel Visions, Christine Olson, curator, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh
1995 Respect, Vicky Clark, curator. The Brew House. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Beyond the Third Dimension: Contemporary Pennsylvania Sculpture, Passions, Kean College of New Jersey, Union, New Jersey
1994 Made in America, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland
Issues of Abstraction, Allegheny College Art Galleries, Meadville, Pennsylvania`
Across Borders / Sin Fronteras, The Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C
Revised Context, Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon
1993 Contemporary Artists’ Series, State Museum of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg
Body of Work, Butters Gallery Ltd, Portland, Oregon
Degrees of Abstraction, 925 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh. Curator, Vicky Clark
1992 Artist of the Year, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Work Experience

1992-2001 Co Founder, Creator and Developer, The Pittsburgh Glass Center
Identified the building, neighborhood and partners
Created the Ask for all funders identified in my Strategic Plan
Wrote the first Case for Support, Business Plan and Strategic Plan.
Developed the Curriculum
Created the SiO2 class for children combining science and art
Developed the summer intensive
Developed and raised the funds for the Artist House for visiting artists and techs
Created the first 3 years of exhibitions including the River by Robin Stanaway, Artists Crossing Lines
Inviting artists from other disciplines to work in glass, Jill Reynolds, glass and multimedia installation
Developed the first Gala exhibition and fundraiser
1976-1989 Associate Professor of Glass Art, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Developed a world class glass program with excellent state of the art equipment
Secured through generous donations from business throughout the United States
Including, PPG, Carborundum and Glenshaw Glass.
1975-6 Director of the Glass Program, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio


American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington,D.C.
American Eagle Outfitters Headquarters, Pittsburgh, PA
American Craft Museum, New York City City of Pittsburgh, Light Rail Transit
Bayer Corporation
Carnegie Mellon University Library, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
City of Pittsburgh, Light Rail Transit
Deloitte and Touche Headquarters, Pittsburgh
Duquesne Light Corporate Headquarters, Pittsburgh
Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York
Heinz History Center
Nova Chemicals, Inc.
State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
Westinghouse Corporate, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Westmoreland County Museum of Art, Greensburgh, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

Selected Bibliography

2016 Clark, Dr. Vicky A., “A Fine Intoxication,” Catalog Essay for Opposites Attract, Westmoreland Museum of Art
2010 Masters : Blown Glass, Lark Books, Sterling Publishing Co.
2009 Olson, Kristina, A Perestroika of Form, Perestroilka (n) Restructuring: The Glass Sculpture of Kathleen Mulcahy, Ron Desmett and Martin Prekop, Selby Gallery, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Fl
2008 Melada, Geoffrey W., “Together 24/7,” Pittsburgh Magazine, February 2008
Krainak, Paul. “GLASSNOST.” Essay for Catalog, Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University Campus, Pittsburgh, PA
2007 Olson, Kristina, Kathleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett. Review of exhibition “Truth/Beauty, Pittsburgh Glass Center,” SCULPTURE Magazine. June
Kangas, Matthew and Susanne Frantz, Viva Vetro! Glass Alive! Venice and America, Curator, Sarah Nichols, published by Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Tetkowski, Neil. Natural Forces Exhibition Brochure, Kean University
Olson, Kristina. Natural Forces Exhibition Brochure Essay, Kean University
Reiter, Burkhardt. “Opera theater deftly fuses elements in ‘Sound of Voice’” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 28, 2007
Thomas, Mary. “‘Glassnost’ at CMU gallery represents enlightened ideas.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 27
Todt, Ron. “Exhibitions look through the ‘glass city’.” Buffalo News. April 8
Kanny, Mark. “Opera Theater mixes eras, cultures in ‘Voice’.” Tribune Review. April 28
2006 O’Sullivan, Michael. “A Show Full of Ideas,” Washington Post, January 13, 2006
2004 Krainak, Paul. “Artists Crossing Lines.” SCULPTURE Magazine, January/February
Women in the Arts Profile, “Glass Artist Kathleen Mulcahy Represents Woman in a New Language,” Pennsylvania Commission for Women, Commonwealth of Women Publication 2004.