The Kiley

By Katie Phelps, Curatorial Assistant and Visiting Artist Coordinator

Last month, I found myself lagging at 3 pm on a Friday. Luckily, my office has something better than a cup of coffee. We have the Hot Shop, where I can watch my coworkers coax hot glass (essentially molten lava) into world-class sculptures.

I tucked myself into a front row seat to watch artist John Kiley work with our team to create his dramatic, optical sculptures. As I sat down, I could tell that my afternoon blues were shared with my coworkers—energy on the Hot Shop floor was low. The glass, our emcee Greg Owen informed me, was infested with bubbles. The team couldn’t figure out why, but the results produced surfaces too pock-marked to create finished pieces.

The frustration was palatable until John Kiley grabbed the iPod attached to the Hot Shop speakers and silenced Pandora™’s mellow, artsy blues. Familiar, energizing power chords filled the Hot Shop.

“Jessie is a friend/ Yeah, I know he’s been a good friend of mine/ But lately something’s changed/ It ain’t hard to define/ Jessie’s got himself a girl and I want to make her mine…”

By the time Rick Springfield’s iconic chorus came along, I found myself pulling out my air guitar along with the rest of the Hot Shop. The next few songs turned the swagger in the Hot Shop back up to 11 and struck a new energy that was relaxed, confident and fun.


With the atmosphere reenergized, the next piece concluded successfully with a dramatic flair we’ve officially dubbed “The Kiley.”

It’s hard not to reflect on teamwork while sitting in MOG’s Hot Shop, and that Friday the lesson was loud and clear—attitude is contagious.

Katie Phelps is the Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator at Museum of Glass. She is an alumnus of Whitman College (BA) and University of Washington (MA). In her life outside of the Museum she is outside as much as possible, wearing skis as often as she does hiking boots.