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Artistic Brilliance Across Borders: Exploring Raven Skyriver's Glass Art

ArtSpring, in collaboration with Salt Spring Arts and SJIMA, is exhibiting a collection of work by San Juan Islands artists from April 21st through May 24th, at the ArtSpring Gallery, Salt Spring Island, BC, in the first of two cross-border exhibitions. The second installment will feature Southern Gulf Island artists at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art, September 22nd - December 4th, 2023.

This blog series explores the work of the San Juan Island artists currently exhibiting in the first of these cross-border exhibitions.



Born in 1982, Raven Skyriver is a highly skilled glass artist who spent his formative years immersed in the natural beauty of the San Juan Islands. His artistic journey was nurtured in a creative household that served as a learning hub for artisans mastering Northwest Coast style carving and design. This early exposure to a rich array of artistic practices shaped his artistic perspective and paved the way for his future explorations in glass art.

“Mariana” 2023. #russelljohnsonphotography

Skyriver's journey with glass began at the age of 16 when his family friend and mentor, Lark Dalton, introduced him to the captivating medium. His natural fascination with glass was so intense that he pursued every opportunity to work with it. This drive eventually led him to join the renowned team of Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen for the William Morris project in 2003. This experience marked Skyriver's induction into the world of glass sculpture and initiated the development of a narrative vocabulary in his art.

"My work is informed by the surrounding environment, I love to explore the plethora of lifeforms that we seldom see, and present them as if captured in a moment, imbuing them with a sense of life. I select earth tones and exploit the translucent nature of glass to reflect the ecosystems where these creatures reside."

His unending quest for mastery in his chosen medium eventually saw him return to his birthplace, the San Juan Islands, in 2018. Along with his wife Kelly O’Dell, Skyriver established a home studio where they could channel their creative energies and produce stunning pieces of glass art.

Raven Skyriver at his home studio on Lopez Island, 2023. Portrait by @1000words_wa.

Throughout his career, Skyriver has adopted a unique approach to his work, characterized by a deep observation of his chosen subjects, thus initiating an ongoing personal dialogue. This introspective conversation explores the celebration of biodiversity, a profound understanding of his heritage, the significance of native species, and the vital role these entities play in their ecosystems.

In an ambitious project that came to fruition in 2021, Skyriver returned to the San Juan Islands and, through a crowdfunded initiative, set up a hot shop on Lopez Island. His work, which primarily focuses on sculptural depictions of marine life, reflects the inspiration he draws from his island upbringing and the intricate creatures that inhabit this fragile ecosystem.

Today, Skyriver showcases his work across the nation and has been featured in international group exhibitions. His incredible creations are not merely expressions of artistic talent but are also a testament to his commitment to raising awareness about the biodiversity that thrives within our delicate ecosystems.

“Prickle” China Rockfish, 2023. Free hand-sculpted glass, 18″ x 6″ x 14″

Explore Raven Skyriver's work on the San Juan Islands Makers Guild website.


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