FISHBOWL: Artist uses light to capture the world

Business Examiner Online • September 24, 2007

After a single metal-working class at The Evergreen State College and a "painting with light" glass class in Portland, Kim Merriman knew she had found a new passion. A metal and glass sculptor who specializes in interior "glass scapes" and outdoor garden sculptures, Merriman's pieces range from the purely visual — such as wall décor and garden focal points — to functional privacy screens, customized house markers, bird baths, and glassware.

Merriman started her Olympia business in 2001. She was born and raised in Washington, and has called Olympiahome for 25 years. She said that she's been fascinated by light for most of her artistic life.

"Light is how we visually read and experience the world around us," Merriman said. "For more than 20 years, I had a fulfilling and rewarding career as a portrait photographer. I captured moments in time, using various lighting techniques, to create images ranging from the most dramatic to the most serene. My creations are also designed with light in mind. It's an added element when envisioning the sculptures that eventually brings them to life by creating shadows, reflections, and silhouettes. The exterior designs are highlighted with natural light by day and artificial light by night, creating very distinct moods from morning into the night." Merriman said she sculpture work after feeling the need to enhance her own entry space, making it more welcoming.

"I hated the ‘view' of necessary yet unsightly utility boxes at the entry of my home, so I created large steel, copper and colored glass screens to hide them from view," Merriman said. "During the day, they change color and cast shadows onto the surrounding walls. At night, they are lit from behind and become large welcoming beacons, illuminating the area, making it distinct, and drawing people to the space."

Merriman creates individual, site-specific designs for clients all over the country. She said she has always been interested in the arts, but had no idea she's become a glass artists or metal worker — let alone combine the two into one dynamic artistic medium.

"The financial rewards are endless if one can identify and be exposed to particular markets where site-specific, custom designed creations are sought after to create unique indoor and outdoor living spaces," Merriman said. "However, with all art, and small business ownership, there are no guarantees."

Merriman said her work is rewarding, but can be difficult.

"Although I believe art is an essential ingredient in everyone's life, it is one of the first things to be disposed of when disposable income is tight," Merriman said. "When there is more money flowing into the economy, people look for ways to make their lives more pleasant, treat themselves, and enhance their living spaces. As artists, there's a huge challenge of not only where and how to expose people to your work, but how to tap into a world where people are drawn to it and inclined to purchase it because it somehow touches their soul."

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