Behind the Scenes: Lillian Pitt & Dan Friday Collaborations in Glass

Earlier this summer, Dan Friday (Lummi) and Lillian Pitt (Wasco/Warm Springs/Yakama) visited the PRATT Fine Arts Studio to work on a collaborative body of work in glass for the second time. The first time this duo worked together, we were fortunate enough to receive the majority of the works, but this time the bulk of the work will go straight to the Missoula Art Museum for a special exhibition. 

Petroglyphs (rock engravings) and pictographs (rock paintings) are an important part of the rich cultural heritage of the the Columbia River people. Archaeologists estimate that the oldest of them could be between 6,000-7,000 years old. At one time there were roughly 90 sites along the Columbia River, in the stretch of land between Pasco, Washington to the east, and The Dalles, Oregon, to the west. Many of these sites were either inundated or destroyed when The Dalles and the John Day dams were put into service, and are now lost to the world forever.

Lillian produced two different styles of stencils based on the ancient petroglyphs of the Columbia River Gorge. Some of the shapes are made from glass, and are fused straight into the glass vessels, rolled in as Dan works the glass. Other stencils are made of metal, and Lillian sifts glass powder (frit) over them to make a negative image. Dan rolls the gather of glass over the powder and picks up the negative shape, making a subtle “ghost” of the shape in the layers of glass. Some of these processes can be seen in the video, above.

We had a blast watching Dan Friday and Lillian Pitt creating collaborative works in glass at Pratt Fine Arts Center a few months ago. Our photographer, the wonderful Ashley Genevieve, created this video to share insight into the process of blowing and fusing these unique vessels. Three of the vessels that resulted from this blow were part of Dan Friday’s September exhibition at our gallery, and the remainder are now on exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum as part of Lillian’s solo exhibition!

Click here to see all of the works–past and present–that resulted from this dynamic collaboration.