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August 30, 2018
  • Glass hand sculpture
  • Molten glass
  • Artist with molten glass

Shatterproof tradition

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s glass art area, designed in 1972, is one of the nation’s first glass studios built within a university. Thousands of students have practiced the delicate art in this space, with hundreds continuing as college instructors, teachers in art programs, and practicing artists throughout the United States. It remains the only college glass art studio in Hawai‘i.

Unbottled creativity

When even students with no previous art training play with molten glass, they discover aspects of sculpture, design, and color. Smitten by its glowing, sinewy lines and its beautiful relationship with light, they soon realize how challenging it is to control, and how unforgiving the material can be. Young people’s hands transform hot glass; working with hot glass transforms young people’s minds, developing creativity, self-confidence, and collaborative skills.

Students come from all over the world, including Hawai‘i’s elementary schools, to learn glass-making in our studio, and more than 60 internationally renowned artists have visited to share their work, leading workshops and offering critique to our young artists. As the art department presents portable glass-blowing demonstrations at museums, galleries, schools, and hotels, Mānoa’s glass art area is a center for reaching out and bringing in.

Window of opportunity

Glass melting furnaces last an average of six to eight years, and thanks to excellent care for our equipment, ours have lasted 13 years. Yet after nearly continuous duty, they have only one year left before they’re unsafe to use. Since it has also been 13 years since the lab’s most recent upgrade, we plan a complete renovation with new energy-efficient furnaces, new equipment, new ventilation, and a new 540-square-foot classroom.

These changes will not merely update the equipment, putting the UH Mānoa glass studio back on par with our peer universities; they will set it on pace to achieve the “net zero goal” mandated by the state of Hawai‘i for 100 percent renewable energy before the year 2045.

Untempered gratitude

We are deeply grateful to the Cooke Family Foundation and an anonymous Kamaina Family Foundation which each recently gave $100,000 to kick off this Glass Art Area Renovation project. Another $275,000 will turn our vision into works of beauty: young minds and hearts exploring their world and themselves through the creation of art. Thank you for your foresight in giving. 

Gifts of all sizes will help us reach our goal!

Aly Gaffney

Aly Gaffney

Patrick Olson

Patrick Olson

Questions? / More Information

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808 376-7800 or send us a message.