Artist Turns Negative Experience Into Color And Light



Teri Kennedy was scolded by her teachers for doodling in the margins when she was a schoolgirl, but by age 16, Kennedy had sold her first pastel.

A few years later she married an emotionally abusive man, and allowed her creative self to fall by the wayside.


Teri Kennedy weaves colored thread into trim for Renaissance and other costume garments and accessories on the Inkle loom she welded from scratch. She won top honors for the loom in Sedona's Art of Recycling competition. Like the round ornaments Kennedy welded on the front of the loom, the yarn follows a circular pattern through the loom.

"After the relationship ended, I began a series of sculptures and paintings," Kennedy said. "It was like I had to physically give myself permission to create -- it was sort of art therapy."

The sculptures were a series of barriers. One had feet walking through jagged metal. Another had feet climbing a ladder and a hand reaching up. "I hung a floral painting I had done on the wall above the hand," she said.

Bright colors symbolized breaking free and the colors are eye-popping in two tri-panel series Kennedy painted, "Guardians of the Goal I and II.

Since then, Kennedy has completed an art degree to satisfy herself at Northern Arizona University, owned and operated an art supply store, given lessons, toured with the Society for Creative Anachronism as an artist merchant for 11 years and remarried an artistic man who understood her need to create, and read a ton of art history books.

"I'll never be famous, but I have made a living as a full-time artist for years," Kennedy said.

She also credits her high school art classes in jewelry painting and drawing for giving her a foundation in the media she enjoys.

"For a Midwest high school in the 1970s, it was progressive," she said.

The rest of the world seems not to exist when Kennedy is working on a piece, unless her cats Loki or Salem intrude.

"It's an emotional commitment to whatever I am doing at the moment, and each piece of art is a process unto itself."

She might start with a sketch, but then her mind begins to question, "what if I do this? Or this?"

If she tires of one project there is not time to be bored, for she can weave at one of her looms or heat solid color glass rods together to form hand-blown millifiori glass. Millifiori means "a thousand flowers" in Italian.


This is one panel of Teri Kennedy's tri-panel oil painting, "Guardians of the Goal II."

Kennedy also hand-sculpts glass into colorful beads and figurines.

Art patrons will have the opportunity to ask Kennedy about her techniques on June 2. She is a featured artist for June at Down the Street Art Gallery, 703 W. Main St., Payson. She will be at the reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday.


Name: Teri Kennedy

Mediums: Dichroic and millifiori glass, woven textiles, silversmith, welded free-form steel sculptures and wind chimes, as well as painting (mainly oils.).

Award Most Proud: When I owned an arts and crafts store in 1989, I entered a ceramic piece in the International Ceramics Association's competition and won Best of Show.

Advice to beginning artists: Pay attention to your instincts. Learn to see subtle colors, forms and textures in everything. And, most importantly, experiment. A formal art education can open your eyes to endless possibilities.

Inspiration: The work of Paul Gauguin.

Motto: Never take yourself too seriously. Remember to have fun.

Why Whispering Pines? The weather here is easier on my body than Flagstaff and I love being right next to the East Verde River.

Upcoming project: Putting my studio together is my No. 1 priority.


Sport: I can't play anymore, but I loved co-ed softball. I used to smack the ball over the heads of the guys.

Food: Shrimp Thermador and artichokes.

Book genre: Art history.

Music: Classic rock and Enya.

Points of contact: (928) 468-0078 and at Down the Street Art Gallery, 703 W. Main St., Payson, (928) 468-6129.

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