Release Date: July 22, 2020

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

For nearly four years, Pamela Kennedy of Yukon, Oklahoma, has been helping to revive an ancient art form; she works with fused glass. Enjoying the versatility and practicality of this medium, Kennedy is one of the growing number of artist who is rekindling this traditional craft.

Fused glass is the process of joining two or more pieces of the material with the heat of a kiln. According to Kennedy, the process can best be described as both an art and a science, as the different pieces of glass must be compatible with each other. Having developed an artistic eye, she has also learned to use tools such as glass cutters, tile saws and kilns to create one-of-a-kind artworks.

“I love fused glass,” Kennedy said. “Coming up with designs is just one part of the process. Once a piece goes into the kiln it can work out beautifully, or not at all. It is not an ABC type of process. You never know how glass is going to work together. It’s a wonderful process.”

Time, temperature and varying types of glass give artists unique design choices. Texture, shape, color and the size of the piece are all factors taken into account for making fused glass artwork.

“There comes a point that the artistry is also in knowing how to work a kiln to achieve the results you want,” Kennedy said. “You have to know how to raise the temperature of the kiln, how long it needs to stay at specific temperature, and how to cool the piece at rates so that it anneals and doesn’t break. With all the variables, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Glass fusing can range from tack fusing – where separate pieces of glass are stuck together maintaining their individual shapes – to high temperature full fusing where glass is merged together to form one solid, smooth piece.

Glass fusing has been in practice for thousands of years. Evidence indicates ancient Egyptians created this medium and made many goods using fused glass. These items included beads, bottles, bowls, jewelry and vases. In the past 100 years, the art form has had a resurgence in popularity.

Through her artwork, Kennedy has created long-lasting relationships and developed existing ones.

“A friend of mine got me into fused glass,” Kennedy said. “She showed me what she was doing; her work is beautiful. Through her I met Ray Pemberton. With his mentorship and assistance, I have produced a wide variety of glassware.”

Kennedy’s husband has been her biggest supporter. Their relationship has grown as each pursued their own artistic endeavors.

“My husband is a custom knife maker,” Kennedy said. “His business is located in a building on our property. For Christmas a couple of years ago, he carved out an area where I can work in his shop. It was the best gift anyone has ever given me.”

Kennedy’s artwork is both practical and creative. While most of her artistic expression is created for herself, she likes to give pieces to friends and family. However, this year she has pieces for show and sell through the Artesian Online Art Market. Kennedy’s fused glass pieces are currently on display and available to purchase at ArtesianArtsFestival.com.

About Pamela Kennedy

Kennedy is a Chickasaw descended from Dawes Commission enrollee, Ah-Co-Yet-Lay Brown. Her great-grandparents were Stephen Burl Fryrear and Rose Brown, who were among the original settlers of Silver City, Oklahoma.

Kennedy is a practicing lawyer in Yukon, Oklahoma. After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1976, she worked as a paralegal at The Hartford in Oklahoma City. As she neared retirement, Kennedy decided to prepare herself for the next chapter of her life. She started law school at Oklahoma City University, graduating with her juris doctorate in 2010. She has been working as a lawyer for nine years and is a member of the Chickasaw Bar Association.

Kennedy is married to Bill Kennedy Jr. They have four children together and are delighted to have nine grandchildren.

About the Artesian Online Art Market

Chickasaw and Southeastern First American art have found a home virtually during the Artesian Online Art Market (AOAM), available at ArtesianArtsFestival.com until July 31.

James Wallace is director of visual arts media and design for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Arts & Humanities. He said that distinguished Southeastern and First American artists are exhibiting the same high quality, creative artwork online patrons are accustomed to seeing at traditional events such as the Artesian Arts Festival.

The website offers art lovers, collectors and buyers a way to augment art collections with additional items from their favorite First American artists. Wallace recommended keeping an eye open for up-and-coming creators on display.