Media - 2021.22 - SAAM-2021.22_1 - 142998
Copied Kit Paulson, Lungs, 2020, glass, 12 34 × 9 12 × 3 38 in. (32.4 × 24.1 × 8.6 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.22, © 2020, Kit Paulson

Artwork Details

12 34 × 9 12 × 3 38 in. (32.4 × 24.1 × 8.6 cm)
© 2020, Kit Paulson
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund
Mediums Description
Object Number

Artwork Description

Kit Paulson shapes thin strands of heat-resistant glass with a torch to create intricate sculptures. Lungs draws comparison to the structuring of veins and lacework. The artist transformed the alveoli, the tiny air sacs on the lungs, into flowers. Paulson finished this work just weeks before the pandemic of COVID-19, a disease that causes numerous complications in the lungs.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, 2022

Verbal Description

This delicate glass sculpture forms the shape of the human respiratory system. The lungs are a foot tall and nine inches wide with a depth of approximately four inches. The windpipe, which extends upward from the center of the sculpture, is a fleshy pink tube with a ribbed texture. At center, the windpipe splits into two thinner bronchial tubes that mirror each other, forming a wide wishbone shape. From each of these smaller tubes sprout numerous thin, colorless glass branches, which in turn sprout others. This creates a radiating network of stems and tiny buds that mimics the overall shape of a pair of lungs. Enclosed within this network are bouquets of tiny delicate glass flowers that blossom from the bronchial tubes like alveoli. The foundational bright pink windpipe and bronchial tubes stand out through the maze of clear glass. 


Quilt featuring the portrait of a woman
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World
May 13, 2022April 2, 2023
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases the dynamic landscape of American craft today.