By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – The Pilchuck Glass School is the largest and most comprehensive educational center for artists working with glass.
Founded in 1971 by glass art pioneer Dale Chihuly and philanthropists Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg, it brings people from around the world together to inspire and learn from each other in a creative environment.
“A lot of famous artists have taught there and come out of there,” said Nadine Saylor, an assistant professor in the University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Art and Design. “It’s a really big deal.”
Saylor, who leads the glassblowing program at UNK, had the opportunity to take courses at Pilchuck in 2002. The experience “really changed my life,” she said.
Now, one of her students has the same opportunity.
UNK senior Karina Boatright will attend a weeklong session at the Pilchuck Glass School in late July. She’s the first Loper selected to study there through a new partnership program.
“I’m very excited to attend this workshop. It’s not only an opportunity to acquire new techniques related to glass but also a chance to interact with various people and be inspired. This is a unique opportunity to learn from new perspectives,” Boatright said.
One of the top glassworking programs in the world, Pilchuck offers a variety of courses for artists of all skill levels, including glassblowing, casting, fusing, neon, stained glass, painted glass, flameworking, mixed-media sculpture, engraving, vitreography, 3D modeling, photography and performance.
Participants in the summer and fall residential programs eat, work and sleep on the 55-acre campus, which features more than a dozen art studios, individual and group housing and outdoor gathering spaces. The school is located within a 15,000-acre tree farm in the foothills of the Cascade Range, about 50 miles north of Seattle, Washington.
Saylor encouraged Boatright to apply for the Partner Scholarship, which allows her to attend the summer program tuition-free.
“I’m really excited for her to go there because I think it will really change the way she thinks about glass,” Saylor said. “When you go to Pilchuck, even if it’s a weeklong class, it adds years of glassblowing experience because of all the people who are there and things you see. There’s just so much going on.”
Originally from Ibaraki, Japan, Boatright moved to Kearney in 2016 and started studying at UNK in 2019. She’s been taking glassblowing classes for two years and is part of the UNK Glass Club.
Boatright called glassblowing a difficult but enjoyable process.
“It’s always changing and there’s always a different result. That’s what I like about glass,” she said. “It’s really challenging.”
A studio art major with photography and glass emphases, Boatright embraces the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which teaches people to appreciate simplicity and find beauty in imperfection.
“I want to create art that reflects wabi-sabi aesthetic and the Japanese Zen philosophy,” she said. “I hope to make people smile through my artwork.”
Boatright graduates from UNK this fall, then she plans to begin a career that combines glassworking and photography.
“I hope this experience will help shape my future artistic endeavors,” she said.