The perfect marriage of what’s uniquely beautiful about blown and stained glass, Monarch Glass Studio’s Cellular comprises 470 square feet of glass panels installed in the UH2 building at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Designed and fabricated by Tyler Kimball and his team, this project highlights the magic of the handblown rondel in its role as a perfect accompaniment in stained glass windows.
Says Kimball: “Architecture and pattern always inspire me in my designs. I like each installation of glasswork or individual piece to have its own voice and personality, attaching itself to the place it lives and the people who view it.”
Kimball has been working with glass as his main medium since 1999. Prior to returning to his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, to build his glass studio, the artist lived and worked as a glass artist in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. He’s worked in over 60 studios in production, as a resident or visiting artist, assisting other blowers, teaching classes, assisting in classes, and as a demonstrator. Some of his more recent artist in resident stints took place at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, and as a month-long featured artist at Salem State University in Massachusetts.
A passion for glass has led Kimball down many different avenues over the years, and his favorite project is always the one he’s working on now. His work can be found in many collections throughout the country, including private collections of the Kempers and Soslands, as well as the permanent collections of Salem State University and the Columbus College of Art and Design. His iconic blown sculptures of badminton shuttlecocks with fine detailed lace-like designs are exhibited by the Leopold Gallery + Art Consulting, Kansas City, Missouri. Working with transparency and line-play to achieve motion and pattern in his glass, Kimball pushes the limits of color, pattern and shape.
A chance encounter with a stained glass window in his parents’ Kansas City home inspired Kimball’s early interest in glassblowing. Its prismatic effect, casting a rainbow of gorgeous, vivid colors on the wall, captivated him, sending the youngster on a life-long journey of exploring this ancient craft.
Kimball says: “I couldn’t comprehend how humans could make something so wonderful. This fascination continued throughout my childhood, and in 1999, I started working with stained glass, which eventually led me into glassblowing. I started with cold working glass and was hired at a Seattle studio for those skills. On lunch breaks, I went into the hot glass studio where I first learned to blow glass.”
With a breadth of glassworking skills, Kimball has now built the equipment for, set up the studio, and is currently the head of the glass department of the Belger Glass Annex at Belger Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. Additionally, his studio is currently making more rondels than any other worldwide and is also developing its own line of mouth-blown sheet glass – all while carrying out art glass installations around the country for botanical gardens, hospitals, hotels, senior living centers, restaurants, private residences, Disney theme parks, other glass studios, and multiple independent designers. Monarch Glass Studio recently signed a quarter-million-dollar contract with the city of Lawrence, Kansas, for its new transit facility.
Kimball states: “Love glass. Always have and always will. Light, color, pattern, movement, and depth are all aims in my work. I look to the natural optical qualities within glass to allow these qualities to come through in every piece I create. I also work towards giving the viewer a different piece with each new angle or step taken.”
As one of the Stained Glass Association of America’s new board members and the new chair of the Editorial Committee for the Stained Glass Quarterly, Kimball cares about community and the transferring of information through generous sharing.