Yakima Valley Museum

Glass Art La Dolce Vitra! A Celebration of Northwest Glass Arts
July 30, 2005 - September 10, 2005
The Pilchuck Glass School, located north of Seattle and founded in 1971 by glass artist Dale Chihuly and his patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg, has become the largest and most comprehensive educational center in the world for artists working in glass.  Thousands of artists from across the nation and around the world have come to Pilchuck to teach, to test new ideas, to learn, and to expand their artistic and creative horizons in the company of others who share a passion for art.

But Pilchuck’s influence has also been significant in its own backyard.  In the summer of 1994, Dale Chihuly and fellow artist Italo Scanga began using their unique skills in a new program designed to provide a positive outlet for teens living in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood.  Housed in the old shop buildings at Jason Lee Middle School, the first Hilltop Artists in Residence Program had only one makeshift glory hole (glass furnace) for the melting of glass.  There was no glass blowing, rather only the slow heating and then reshaping of commercial glass bottles and jars.  Chihuly and Scanga were able to attract a small group of kids into a workshop where intense heat and white-hot creativity were more appealing than drugs, guns, and gangs.

The Hilltop Program, affiliated with the Tacoma School District, has been growing each year since 1994, and glass artists brought to the area by the Pilchuck School have continued to teach there.  The Hilltop School today is both a center for artistic innovation and a model for programs that positively redirect the energy and drive of at-risk youth.

This exhibition displays some of the best works made by the Hilltop students over the past eleven years as well as a sampling of masterworks created by their teachers, including Dale Chihuly and Italo Scanga.  Look for influences from the works of the master teachers in the works of the students.

None of the student pieces have individual names or stories. Glass blowing is a team process involving many specialized roles, none of which can be ignored or eliminated.  This is especially important for the Hilltop students, who often come to the school lacking trust in others and not believing in the need for interdependence.  Every young artist learns he must depend upon others and focus on the process, or disaster can happen.
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