Support Local Journalism


Kathy Burk began her art career as an interior designer, but she ran into a problem. 

"I never found lighting I liked," Burk said. So she made it. Burk created a glass lampshade, sent a welding design to her father-in-law, and made her very first, one-of-a-kind glass creations. 20 years later, she's still making lamps — and kiln-fired glass bowls and mosaics, too. 

Burk is one of several artists participating in the "Inspired by Yellowstone" visiting artist program in Yellowstone National Park, sponsored by the Yellowstone National Park Lodges. Her glass bowls are inspired by the boldly colored thermal pools that dot Yellowstone. 

"What's fascinating to me is that there is sulfur ... copper and heat, just like in the pools," Burk said. "When I apply heat from my kiln, I can get a similar reaction." 

Burk's big glass bowls are created from layers and layers of glass, fired at thousands of degrees in the kiln at her home studio near Bozeman. 

"It's taken me a long time to figure out the 'recipe' ... it's pretty labor intensive," Burk said. Through trial and error, she learned how to mimic the chemical reactions of the thermal pools. Her bowls look startlingly like the boiling pools she's inspired by — up close, it can be hard to tell if one is looking at a glass bowl or the glassy surface of a pool. Those bowls are then sold in Yellowstone Park. Anything sold in the park over $75 is shipped for free, making Burk's bowls a popular buy. 

"I feel very fortunate to be on [Yellowstone's] short list of artists," Burk said. "It's hard to get in." 

Burk said there's still some pools in the park that have her stumped, although one wouldn't guess it from looking at her art. One she recently cracked is Morning Glory, a pool a little north of the Old Faithful lodge. For years, tourists threw coins into the pool like a wishing well, changing the chemistry and truing it bright copper-green. 

"It took me a month to figure out that color," she said. 

Burk said her favorite part about participating in the "Inspired by Yellowstone" program is her ability to reveal a little more about the mysterious pools and the reactions behind the bold colors. 

"It's a lot of fun to teach a little of the science behind it," she said. 

Burk will be showing her art at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel on September 11 through the 14 and 18 through the 21 and the Old Faithful Inn September 25 through the 28 and October 3 through 6. Her art can also be found locally in the Kara Tripp gallery in the Emerson and online at

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.