Shilo Parker remembers well the first time he saw a man making glass beads with a torch at the Old Market in Omaha. Mesmerized by his work, Parker immediately got his own bead making kit and began what would become a lifelong love affair with glass.
Seven years after his first encounter with glass work, Parker is giving his first exhibition at Union College’s McClelland Art Gallery now through July 14. A combination of glass and ceramics, the exhibit combines vibrant colors with abstract patterns in an abundance of styles
“The cool part about working with glass and clay is that you never know for sure what the final product will look like,” said Parker. “Both glass and clay require time to cool down slowly, and once they are cooled you can finally look at what you’ve made. It reminds me of Christmas morning because you never know what you are going to get.”
Raised in Kearney, Neb., the local artist studied glassblowing and ceramics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, majoring in studio art. Nearing the end of his college career, Parker assisted extensively in the university’s glassblowing “hot shop” and ceramics studio. “The glass and clay by themselves inspire me and the process of creating is what interests me,” he said. “Being able to make something that everyone likes out of nothing is pretty cool.”
Ray Daugherty, senior history major and exhibit coordinator, contacted Parker about coming to the college to exhibit his work. “I was messaged through Facebook about possibly showcasing my artwork,” said Parker. “I thought it was a pretty cool opportunity so I took it!”
Parker currently sells his wares in the Tru Café and GROW Nebraska in Kearney and online at www.buynebraska.com. When he is not working on his art or selling at craft fairs he works as an industrial sandblaster and painter, traveling across the Midwest.
“In the future I would love to become a full-time artist,” he disclosed. “Whether it would be in glass or ceramics wouldn’t matter, I like them both equally in different ways. My hopes for the future are for me to be able to continue to make more art and the rest I’m not really worried about. I know that God will take care of it.”
This past January while visiting Disney World in Orlando, Fl., Parker was offered a full-time position to blow glass in the Magic Kingdom, but had to decline due to previous time commitments. Following his exhibition at the McClelland Art Gallery, he will display his works on July 14 in Kearney’s annual Art in the Park festivities.
While some of the items on display are for sale, others already have personal commitments. “Some pieces, such as the glass pink bowl, belong to my mom and are on loan back to me for this exhibit,” said Parker. Persons interested in making a purchase should contact him at parkerspottery [at] hotmail [dot] com.
The McClelland Art Gallery is located in the Ortner Center on the campus of Union College, 3800 S. 48th Street. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the gallery is free and open to the public.