Artistic Director, Pilchuck Glass School
Tina Aufiero first attended the Pilchuck Glass School in 1978, when she was nineteen years old and a student in Dale Chihuly’s glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). “If you wanted to work with glass, you had to study at Pilchuck Glass School,” Aufiero recalled. “As a young student, it gave me many connections to artists I could talk to about making things, working with different materials, and developing my career.” She returned to Pilchuck Glass School to teach summer sessions throughout the 1990s and served as artist-inresidence for the PAIR Residency (1998) and the Hauberg Residency (2011) before she was named its artistic director in 2013. “If you invite artists someplace a little remote, where they dine, lodge, and work together, then that develops into a network of artists who keep coming back,” Aufiero said. “That’s sort of what happened to me. I just kept coming back.”
“Being up here on this mountain, the horizon is imprinting on me.” The school is founded on Chihuly’s philosophy of “artists teaching artists,” and Aufiero excels as both an artist and teacher. She is charged with leading Pilchuck Glass School into a new era of innovative instruction. “The school was an experiment for a long time, and we’re committed to keeping it alive and vital for the future, marked by exploration and collaboration.” she said. “Pilchuck strives to remain unique, forward thinking. There’s a lot of surprise here.” Aufiero holds a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture and glass from RISD, and a master of fine arts in Design and Technology from The New School’s Parsons School of Design, with master’s studies at New York University’s Gallatin Division in feminist theory and performance. She taught for 15 years at Parsons and has exhibited her artwork and 52 NorthSoundLife.com
lectured internationally. That she studied with Dale Chihuly helps her to lead with a similar spirit and appreciation for synergy. “I saw what Dale could bring together in the cross over between disciplines,” she said. Moving to the North Puget Sound has infused Aufiero’s own artwork with new energy and a sense of place. “Where I live has got my attention. The sky, the horizon, the landscape, this view everyday, which every hour is a little different,” she said, gesturing toward the window and its expansive view of the Sound. “The blueness, the horizon, the 16:9 ratio is really affecting me, so I’m blowing cylinders that are washes of blue and opening them up flat into horizontal panels. Being up here on this mountain, the horizon is imprinting on me.” The migratory snow geese and swans that winter in the Skagit Valley have also captured her imagination. She says that she can often be found in the fields equipped with balloons and small cameras in order to record images and sounds of migrating birds. This work culminated in “project_swancam,” in which she outfitted a swan with a small camera. The results are mixed media works that incorporate video, photography, and sculpture. Her obsession with swans led to a Fulbright Research Award to study flocks of migratory birds in Iceland and lecture at the Iceland Academy of Art’s ceramics department. She then followed migrating swans throughout Europe and photographed them. Her work has exhibited at The Heinneman Collection at The Corning Museum of Glass, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Musée des Art Décoratifs, and Venini S.p.A. Today, Pilchuck hosts more than 500 students and artists each summer and is guided by a forty-one-member Board of Trustees. According to Aufiero, the original core values of the school endure: to inspire creativity, transform individuals, and build community.