Cherokee artist inspired by ‘Agitsi’ to fulfill dream
Cherokee artist Brandi Hines stands next to her stained-glass creations that include lanterns, feathers and Grandma Turtle on June 27 at the Tulsa Artery gallery. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Brandi Hines works on a stained-glass feather on June 27 at her studio in Tulsa. Hines is a third-generation glass artist. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee artist Brandi Hines’ specialty is stained-glass feathers such as this one seen June 27 at her Tulsa studio. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
These stained-glass pieces were made by Cherokee artist Brandi Hines for the Cherokee Phoenix’s third-quarter giveaway. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Stained-glass garden art is seen at Cherokee artist Brandi Hines’ studio on June 27 in Tulsa. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee artist Brandi Hines creates her work and teaches stained-glass classes at a studio in Tulsa. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TULSA – From an artistic family, Brandi Hines carries on the tradition by combining her Cherokee heritage with creativity to craft colorful stained-glass pieces such as a signature feather inspired by her late mother.
“I grew up watching my grandmother and mom do stained glass together,” Hines said. “I always knew I wanted to do it. I wanted to be an artist. That was what me and my mom’s dream was, that we were going to do it together.”
Today, the third-generation artist and Cherokee Nation citizen owns and operates a stained-glass business called Agitsi, which means “my mother” in Cherokee. A certified Tribal Employment Rights Office business, Agitsi is named in honor of Hines’ mother, Vicki White, who died in 2016.
“After my mom died, it was just so sad,” Hines said. “I just had a hard time with it. That’s when I was like I just need to do this for her. I just wanted to go ahead and continue what our plan was. That’s when I made the feather. These are more of a dedication to her.”
Hines said it took the better part of six months to create a stained-glass feather “how I wanted it to look.”
“But by the time I got this feather the way I wanted it, I was OK, you know, and I was ready to move on,” she said. “This is what got me through it.”
Creating art “just takes away all that stress,” Hines added.
“Your mind is just not wandering anymore,” she said. “It really does just kind of pull you away.”
Hines’ work can be seen at the Tulsa Artery gallery and other locations. In addition to creating artwork for sale, she teaches the craft to others, including daughter Hailee, a fourth-generation artist and oldest of five children.
“Since I’ve been here teaching classes, that made it to where I can now bring her in, and she works with me part time,” Hines said. “Our goal is to continue our family legacy and teach about culture through stained glass.”
Classes cover techniques for cutting glass, grinding, soldering and more. Inspiration for Hines’ art is in part drawn from Cherokee culture.
“I really enjoy the folklore like the grandma turtle,” she said. “I get to make those pieces. They usually sit in here, so when everyone comes and does their classes, it gives you a chance to say, ‘Oh, that’s grandma turtle,’ then I get to share those stories. They all enjoy it, whether they’re tribal or not.”
Before taking a chance on the business, Hines spent 11 years at Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa.
“I loved my job,” she said. “As a single mom with all these kids, they took very good care of me. So I really, really liked my job. Everyone was just shocked when I put in my notice at the clinic.”
Her first foray into selling artwork – at the urging of a nephew – was at the 2017 Cherokee National Holiday.
Hines is the Cherokee Phoenix’s third quarter giveaway artist. Her pieces for the contest include a stained-glass wall hanging and feather.
“Agitsi feathers are handcrafted and beaded to capture the love of our Native American heritage in the memory of Agitsi (my mother),” a business advertisement says.
She also created Cherokee Phoenix-themed feathers as awards at the newspaper’s inaugural Seven Feathers Awards Gala planned for Nov. 23 at the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah.
For more information about Hines’ work, visit agitsi.com. She is also on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram, and can be emailed at Agitsiglass@gmail.com