Raya Friday glass flame sculpture

In the Spirit of the People: Native Contemporary Artists

August 2019 - February 2020; Lightcatcher building

In the Spirit of the People: Native Contemporary Artists features works by Native American artists in the Museum’s gallery and public spaces on a rotating basis. The series is meant to highlight outstanding contemporary Native artwork and allow the Museum to work more closely with members of area tribes. Works in the series may also be displayed in the People of the Sea and Cedar exhibit gallery.

Raya Friday cleaning sculptureRaya Friday, People of the Fire

Lightcatcher lobby

To kick off the series, Lummi Nation glass artist Raya Friday installed her piece People of the Fire in the Lightcatcher lobby in July of 2019. The sculpture is made of glass, bronze, and stone and weighs roughly 2,700 pounds. Friday said the piece represents the spirituality of the elements and the idea that “everything in the natural world has its own energy, its own spirit.”

It took Raya about eight months to create the sculpture of glass and bronze set into a pedestal of stone, which she completed in 2007. Raya was involved with each element, from mixing the bronze to cutting the stone to pouring the molten glass. The flames get their color from frit, or concentrated crushed glass. This gives the unpolished sides a slightly rough appearance. Raya used sand casting to create each flame, then hand-carved faces into the surface. Located in the Lightcatcher lobby, the sculpture is illuminated by the natural light coming through the large glass windows.

Read more about Raya Friday on the Museum’s blog. The Museum Store is currently featuring a variety of glass art created by Raya for purchase.