Exploring themes of birth, death, animal-human relationships and parallel worlds suggests that Christina Bothwell is a magical realist. Her work conjures scenes from fables or children’s stories in which something impossible is happening quite naturally and spontaneously.
Bothwell says: “Since I was very young, I have been fascinated with the concept of the Soul… the idea that the physical body represents only a small part of our beingness. I am always interested in trying to express that we are more than just our bodies, and my ongoing spiritual interests and pursuits have run parallel to the narrative in my pieces.”
Bothwell studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia before teaching herself how to work with ceramics and cast glass. The artist lived and worked in Manhattan until 1994 when she and husband, artist Robert Bender, relocated to rural Pennsylvania – along with their three young children, eight pets, plus a snake named Lucy. Nature, the main source of inspiration for her work, helps Bothwell maintain an awareness of the interconnectedness that exists among all of life.
By the late 1990s, Bothwell was having some success making doll-like figures out of clay, found objects and cloth. But a perceived “disturbing quality” sometimes made the work a tough sell. A 1999 glassmaking workshop at the Corning Museum of Glass provided the breakthrough she needed. Realizing glass could do all the same things as clay but with an added element of delicacy and lightness, Bothwell has been combining the two materials ever since – a pairing that has become her aesthetic signature.
Since those early days, Bothwell has won numerous scholarships and grants including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and a Virginia A. Groot Foundation award for excellence in sculpture. Additional awards and honors include the 2018 Artist of the Future Award for Most Compassionate Artist, Imagine Museum, Saint Petersburg, FL; The Haven Foundation grant, Brewer, ME; and the Craft Emergency Relief Foundation grant, Montpelier, VT, to offset damages and loss of artwork caused by a devastating studio fire Bothwell and Bender suffered in August 2018.
Bothwell’s work is held in permanent public collections such as the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY; Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; Shanghai Museum of Glass Art, Shanghai, China; Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL; Palm Springs Museum, Palm Springs, CA and the Alexander Tutsek – Stiftung foundation, Munich, Germany. She is represented by Heller Gallery, NY; Habatat Gallery, Royal Oak, MI; and Austin Art Projects, Palm Desert, CA.
With an exhibition at Heller Gallery scheduled in February 2021, Bothwell contemplates new work. “My subject matter includes babies, animals, and children as they embody the essence of vulnerability that is the underlying theme in my work. Currently I am exploring metamorphosis as a topic, and have been incorporating figures within figures in my pieces. Within each glass figure there is a smaller figure seen through the surface of the glass. I think of these pieces as souls, each being pregnant with their own potential, giving birth to new, improved versions of themselves.”
In this special AMA (Ask Me Anything) episode of Talking Out Your Glass podcast, patron and co-producer Anthony Cowan participates in interviewing one of his favorite glass artists, Bothwell, as a reward for his support of the podcast via Patreon. If you’re interested in supporting the continued documentation of glass and glass artists while earning extra episodes and other rewards, visit