joseph kaftan bio photo

Joseph Kaftan was born in northern Wisconsin. His mother was a newspaper photographer and his father a self-taught sculptor and mosaicist. Joseph drew and painted as a child and later studied as a graphic designer. He worked both in freelance and for advertising agencies, designing CD and book covers.

In 2006, he began his first mosaic when his father had a stroke and Joseph served as his father's hands creating the glass artwork. He didn't finish that first piece until several years later but when he did, it awakened a deep appreciation for the medium. In 2012, he began creating mosaics as his main focus. ‘Because my father was a mosaic artist, I feel him at the work table with me, and because my mother was my main creative mentor, she is also right there with us.’

Working in glass became a profoundly connecting experience for Joseph. ‘There is something in the physicality of glass – its transparency and reflectiveness, and the tactile quality of shaping and painting with light that speaks to me.’ His work is fueled by the way the glass holds light, reflects light, and expresses translucence especially when it is used to suggest water.

Joseph makes his home and studio in Seattle on Puget Sound, but frequently returns to his family cottage on Lake Michigan where he has a studio as well. He has always been drawn to where water meets land and waves meet sky. This is where he spends most of his time, teaching kayaking, snorkeling, kayak fishing, racing his surf-ski, foraging for shellfish, or walking the beach.

Whether it is a landscape, a rooster or a trout, he is looking for the most fundamental stories of nature – the iconic and sacred in the everyday. It is these interactions that inspire him to make mosaics.