Barb McKinlay- Glass Art Exhibit


Thursday, July 5 – Thursday, August 25, 2016

Meet the Artist | Friday, July 8, 2016, 5pm – 7pm

Free and Open to the Public

Artist Statement

My work has moved from the purely functional to more abstract expressions in my River and Ocean series and continues in that direction in my new exhibit.  Glass isn’t often used for painting but for abstract designs and functional pieces.  I wanted to make paintings where the picture is made purely of glass but one that evoked something more personal.

I had in mind a project about people.  No one in particular, anyone you might meet walking down the street; the people inhabiting slices of everyday life.  I would use the warmth of melted glass as a way of conveying their inner warmth, thoughts and vitality.  I wanted to explore their faces, their look:  When you really look at someone, you see beyond caricature into the very things that make them unique.  Beyond all that, the person I put into the kiln before heat and warmth are applied is different from the one who comes out.  Sometimes they go in with a smile and come out with a smirk.

Each piece in this exhibit led to the next, when a face came out of the kiln expressing an emotion or an idea of a person I’ve met, another face would come forward or a couple of faces together. There are more faces and colors to come from my kilns in the future.


Barb Zehentner McKinlay began her life as one of the youngest members of a large Midwestern family in Dubuque, Iowa.  Her father, a WWII veteran and a small business owner, ran several sporting goods stores with his family.  While she and all her siblings helped out with the family business, several of them went to college to pursue creative careers in art, film, engineering and architecture. Her oldest sister was both a painter and art teacher, her younger brother an independent film producer. As a child, Barb liked to take art classes from neighborhood artists and spent time creating crafts, this continued on the side as she pursued an education in biology and a career in business.

Growing up in a family business, it was natural Barb made a career in sales management and marketing.  She worked for glass companies such as Kosta Boda and Simon Pearce, where training included onsite factory tours and in-depth education about the design and manufacturing processes of products.  The creative process and the focus on composition and materials, design and function, fascinated her.  She found inspiration in her professional life meeting and working with creatives of all kinds involved in the enterprise of making a commercial success of the work of designers and artists from Europe and the U.S.   When she got the chance to blow glass on her own, her creative self was re-awakened a desire to make and sell her own designs.

Today, Barb’s work can be found in stores, specialty shops, and galleries in the Midwest and throughout the country.  Her work has been featured in shows with other regional artists in Iowa and Wisconsin.  Barb teaches glass design classes to adults in several Midwest cities and actively participates in a variety of classes and fundraisers for youth groups in Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota.  Barb’s functional art is available in department stores, specialty stores, and galleries in the Midwest, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Hall’s of Kansas City and Borsheim’s of Omaha.