Mark Zirpel named to the Chihuly Chair in Glass, University of Washington

AACG Glass News - "The University of Washington has announced the appointment of mixed-media and glass artist Mark Zirpel as Assistant Professor and first holder of the Dale Chihuly Endowed Chair in Glass. Zirpel received a BFA in drawing and printmaking from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and an MFA in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has been a resident at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, and has held a 2004 CGCA Fellowship at WheatonArts and a Hauberg Fellowship at the Pilchuck Glass School."

UW University Week - The position, which was first announced in 2007, will be, "part of a new collaboration between ceramics, sculpture, public art and glass, a combination that will be unique to the UW," according to Jaime Walker, professor of ceramics. "This effort," he said, "will benefit from the preeminent role that the Northwest has had in the contemporary glass movement."

The endowed chair was funded by about $2 million in private gifts from individuals and organizations, including members of the Pilchuck Glass School's board of trustees. Christopher Ozubko, director of the School of Art, said the idea of teaching glass art at the UW has been discussed for many years. He said he remembered a meeting with Chihuly and former UW President Richard McCormick on the matter in the late 1990s.

The new thrust in glass art education will "probably not be a program, but there will be experiences in glass art by a faculty member who is an outstanding sculptor as well as a glass artist." The thought, he said, is to introduce "a three-D consortium," or "a redefinition of curriculum" where classes in glass are either taught by the new faculty member or team-taught by faculty in sculpture, public art and ceramics.

"Our goal is to develop a unique, dynamic and interdisciplinary program that serves to incubate a new generation of artists who can make significant contributions not only to their specific fields, but to society as a whole." Walker said the revised studio art program will likely partner with the Pratt Fine Arts Center, the Tacoma Museum of Glass and the Pilchuck Glass School.

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July 25, 2008