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Press Release

Release Date: May 12, 2017

by Loné Beasley



  • Bill Glass Jr.

After 40 years of honing his talent, celebrated Cherokee ceramic artist Bill Glass Jr., has distilled the secret to his success down to its finest components.

“Follow your heart; follow your medium and really explore it,” he says.

Glass said creating art is not always a top-down enterprise. Often the medium can dictate its own creativity if the artist is paying close enough attention.

“Listen to your medium. Get deep into your medium and try to let your medium push you into being creative too,” he said.

His numerous awards and honors testify to the wisdom of this counsel.

Glass and more than 100 other Native American artists will showcase their creative wares at the Artesian Arts Festival in Sulphur, Oklahoma, Saturday, May 27.

The Locust Grove, Oklahoma, resident is a contemporary artist who incorporates traditional designs into his work.

“I try to research the old southeast designs and use that as a basis to rely on,” he said. “I make changes, tweak it around and use color. Those old designs don’t have much color because they’re just black and white drawings.”

His mother was the artist in the family as he grew up, and though she often had him working on artistic projects, it wasn’t until he got to college that he discovered it was his life’s calling. An art elective started the wheels turning and soon he was headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for in depth training at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Today his son Demos has joined him in the work and both have earned the distinguished title of Cherokee National Treasure.

“We collaborate on projects,” Glass said. “We make a good team.”

One such collaborative effort called for two sculptures just a bit shy of 50 feet in height placed at the Cherokee Nation’s Ramona, Oklahoma, casino.

“One is a powder-coated, welded Phoenix bird rising out of the fire,” he said. “It has two faces representing two guys telling the story.”

The second sculpture explains the story in the Cherokee language.

Such large pieces require skills in math, geometry and ratios, not just pure art, Glass said. For that reason, he thinks schools should not abandon art classes.

“Math plays a big part in art,” he said. “Studies say art helps improve math and science scores. They should keep art programs in schools because of that reason.”

Glass said another joy is being able to teach others and, to that end, he and his son regularly host eager learners in their Locust Grove studio.

“I’ve got students who come in once a week for five hours and I get to teach the class. I get to share my knowledge with others and hope it will continue on. My wife, Connie, also feeds them a Sunday dinner and we have good discussions.  I think that’s a good way to share our knowledge.

“I’ll never retire because it’s something I love so much,” he said.

Twenty-five Native American tribes throughout the United States and Canada will be featured during the Chickasaw Nation’s fourth annual Memorial Day weekend Artesian Arts Festival. Participants will be displaying art in such disciplines as painting, basketry, jewelry, sculpture, metalworking, bead work, photography, textiles and pottery.

A variety of musical entertainment is planned, as well as tribal dance demonstrations and regalia. Bands will provide continuous entertainment on two stages. The event is open to the public at no charge. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. at the Artesian Plaza located adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa, 1001 W. First Street in Sulphur, Oklahoma. For more information call (580) 272-5520 or email artistinfo@chickasaw.net.

Last Updated: 09/16/2016