News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Art project connects throughCreativity

Colorful glass work by 220 Sisters Middle School students now graces the landscaping adjacent to the entrance of Sisters Art Works at 204 W. Adams Ave. in Sisters.

The permanent art installation represents hours of work by students under the guidance of art teacher Judy Fuentes and renowned Sisters glass artist Susie Zeitner, assisted by volunteers from Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) .

Zeitner, with her team of Patty Lahn and SFF staff Teresa Mills and Kate Kittell, conducted a glass artist residency at Sisters Middle School in February.

According to Zeitner, the original concept was to work just with kids in the arts class — but Fuentes expressed the hope that all the kids would have an opportunity to participate. Zeitner jumped on the idea. In her kiln at her studio in the Sisters Industrial Park, she created fused-glass pieces — with the edges rounded for safety — and brought them to the school, where the students turned the glass into four-inch-by-six-inch panels.

“We softened the edges so they could work with it easily without cutting themselves,” Zeitner told The Nugget.

“The fifth and sixth graders got to make one tile apiece,” Zeitner said. “The seventh and eighth graders got to make three tiles apiece.”

Zeitner said it was fun to observe the different approaches the students took — some very methodical in piecing together their panels, others totally freewheeling.

The results were panels that are each the unique expression of the individual artist. Zeitner and Lahn took the panels back to Z Glass Act studio, where they glued them onto tubes of structural steel. Zeitner and Lahn made four-by-four-inch end caps for the pillars. A SFF volunteer team set the steel pillars in concrete at Sisters Art Works on Friday, working off a map laid out by Zeitner.

She and Lahn went to great lengths to keep track of the identity of the artist for each panel, and divided the installation up according to grade level so that the student artists will readily be able to find their work on site.

“[Each tile is] theirs with their choice of colors and patterns, and among the totem and the installation they are represented in their community,” Fuentes noted. “And it is just dazzling.”

Zeitner was excited to be able to provide an exceptional opportunity for the students. With her expertise, and the availability of the kiln equipment she uses in her commercial art business, she was able to give them access to a medium they would not ordinarily be able to experience in a classroom.

“It’s a three-dimensional art form that works with glass,” she said, “which is a unique opportunity for the students.”

That kind of unique opportunity manifests the goals of the partnership between the Sisters School District and the Sisters Folk Festival, expressed in the motto, “Connected Through Creativity.”

The installation will be officially unveiled on Friday, April 29, during My Own Two Hands Community Arts Celebration. For more information on MOTH, visit

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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