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For Immediate Release: December 18, 2008

Glass sculptors capture the spirit of Duquesne University.
New commissioned glass sculpture installed.

PITTSBURGH — Nationally renown glass sculptors Kathleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett, whose love of glass art inspired the creation of the world renown Pittsburgh Glass Center, recently unveiled a fabricated and welded stainless steel and cast glass sculpture titled “The Spirit of Duquesne.”

The glass sculpture, commemorating Duquesne University’s 130th anniversary, stands 6’6” high x 5'2 wide on an earthen four-foot mound on the Locust Circle, in the heart of the Duquesne University Campus, located in Pittsburgh, PA.

The glass sculptors, whose commissioned work appears in corporate, educational and other settings throughout the United States and several countries, chose stainless steel because its brilliant properties made a good partner to the cast glass rising within the form's structure.

“As glass sculptors, we try always to put glass in the best possible light,” says Mulcahy. “Sometimes, that means pairing glass with its natural complement—a material that completes the form and amplifies what we’re trying to express.”

On the pairing of glass and steel, Desmett says it’s also a nod to the steel and glass manufacturing so vital to the region’s early industrial history. “Steel eventually stole the thunder and become synonymous with Southwestern Pennsylvania,” he says. “We forget the seminal role of glass, and how that knowledge base gave rise to many glass sculptors.”

Duquesne Glass Sculpture: Photo 2 Duquesne Glass Sculpture: Photo 3
Click on a thumbnail to view photo

Spiritan Roots

Mulcahy and Desmett found inspiration for “The Spirit of Duquesne” in the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, or Spiritans, who adopted the flame, a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

The Congregation of the Holy Spirit founded Duquesne University, and the group continues to be known for volunteer spiritual work all over the world, including Africa.

Duquesne President Charles J. Dougherty, commented that both glass and steel call upon the energy or fire and air. “We salute Pittsburgh’s industrial heritage, and the hard-working people and diverse cultures that helped Duquesne take root.”

At night, “The Spirit of Duquesne” glass sculpture glows with light, symbolizing what President Dougherty calls “the enlightenment that generations have sought and found here on our Bluff.”

Glass Sculptors at Work

“The Spirit of Duquesne” represents years of research, design and collaboration. New work took several years to come to fruition. Mulcahy and Desmett developed the piece from models, then aided in the construction and finishing of all surfaces. They paired with veteran steel fabricator, Gene Stahl of Somerset, PA. The cast glass constructions within the glass sculpture were built and fused at the artist’s studios in Oakdale, Pennsylvania.

Critics on Glass Sculpture

In a recent exhibition brochure, essayist and critic Paul Krainak wrote of Mulcahy, Desmett and the other artists using glass in the exhibition, “These artists utilize glass in a multi-directional language with sensibilities that include profound insights with regard to utility, ornamentation, politics and formal style.”

Artists Bios

Kathleen Mulcahy works as an independent artist with her husband and partner, Ron Desmett. Their glass sculptures, created independently and together, has earned numerous awards.

The Renwick Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, DC acquired their collaborative work “Crossings 1982” in 1992. The Renwick recently purchased a Lidded Trunk Vessel from Desmett for its permanent collection; another piece was purchased by The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Mulcahy has received numerous honors including an NEA and the Creative Achievement Award from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Mulcahy and Desmett played a seminal role in creating The Pittsburgh Glass Center, a public access art center for the encouragement of innovative use of glass in art and design.

Kathleen and Ron reside in Oakdale, PA, where they have built an extensive glass sculpture studios.

For more information on “The Spirit of Duquesne,” contact Kathleen Mulcahy at or 724-693-0758.