Ethan Townsend (b. 1998); Puddle Jump, 2019; Yellow rain boots, ladle of molten glass.; Mounted on aluminum dibond under acrylic glass.; 3’H x 7’L

Hotshots

Punahou’s Glass Art Masters

Related: Shapeshifters – 50 Years of Glass Art at Punahou

At the onset, it would have been a stretch to imagine that Punahou’s fledgling glass art program would become an incubator for elite talent. But that’s exactly what has transpired over the last five decades, as the program has given way to a menagerie of celebrated artists in the field of glass art. No one is more surprised with this impressive outcome than the program’s founder himself, Hugh Jenkins, who says that spawning future professional artists was not part of the initial grand plan. In celebration of its golden anniversary, several alumni are reflecting on the role that the School played in igniting their passion for glass art.

– Rachel Breitweser ’03

Chuck Vannatta (b.1967); Goblets, 2002; Blown glass; 9"-9.5"H

Chuck Vannatta ’85

“The question of how the Punahou glass program influenced my career is a doozy. I knew almost immediately that I had found what I wanted to do with my life as a junior, in what was at the time one of two high school glass programs in the country. In my mind it’s practically miraculous. I am so grateful to have been introduced to my life’s passion at such a young age. Mahalo to Punahou and especially to Hugh Jenkins for the spark and support.”

David Naito (b. 1974); Slumber with Opal Coral, 2002; Blown glass, silver leaf; 12"H x 14"L x 8.5"D

David Naito ’92

“Punahou glass literally set me on my career path. It taught me so much about the importance of patience, attentive observation, introspection and the importance of community. The Punahou glass program has served as a foundational footing, a home that I could always come to, and the opportunity to share and give back to the place that set me out on my life’s voyage.”

Boyd Sugiki (b. 1968); Bora Bora Bowls, 2012; Blown glass; 6"H x 8.5"D

Boyd Sugiki ’87 

“My teachers, Hugh Jenkins (glass) and Carole Iacovelli (ceramics), were pivotal in the foundation of my art career at Punahou School. Both encouraged and nurtured my interests in the arts. I am grateful for all of the teachers and experiences that I had at the School.”

Tate Newfield (b. 1995); Prototype_01, 2020; Blown and hot sculpted glass; Assisted by Jon Bolivar; 6'2"H

Tate Newfield ’14

“Thanks to Punahou School’s top notch teachers and facilities, I’ve found my passion in life. Many teachers are to thank; anyone who has gone through the glass program at Punahou knows that Mark Mitsuda taught thousands of us how to learn anything, through this mysteriously gooey material.”

Michael Mortara (b. 1960); Murinni Diamond, 2018; Laminated and cold worked glass.; Assisted by Chris and Myanna Lowry.; 10"H

Michael Mortara ’79

“If you had asked me in the closing days of high school what comes next, glass wouldn’t have been a blip on my radar. But the threads of Punahou glassblowing worked their ways, and here I am after almost 25 years as a glass artist. A lot of those threads came through my relationship with Hugh Jenkins, a relationship that evolved from student and teacher to friends, almost 45 years later. Punahou is an incredible engine of opportunity for its students.”

Ethan Townsend (b. 1998); Erosion, 2018; Hand-pulled cane set into laser cut steel.; Each cane was dragged by the artist on a highway for varying distances.; 10'H x 5'L x 10"W; Private Collection

Ethan Townsend ’16

“The glass program at Punahou gave me a solid foundational background in glassblowing techniques and 3D technologies. With this knowledge, I was able to explore the intersection between glass and technology further in college, and build a portfolio that landed me a job at a 3D molten glass printing studio, where we’ve been working with NASA to explore how to build glass parts for structures on the moon.”

J.P. Canlis (b. 1973); Wheat, 2010; Comprised of approximately 200 stalks of hand pulled glass, with lampworked detail. Shown in client’s home.; 7'H x 23"W x 23"D

JP Canlis ’92

“I took my first glassblowing class when I was a junior at Punahou in 1991 and that opened a door to a medium I had never worked with before; and one I wanted to explore the rest of my life. I had all these ideas I wanted to try. Hugh Jenkins saw how enthusiastic I was and encouraged me to pursue glass art in college and as a career. After college, I worked with Seattle artist Dale Chihuly before opening my own business, Canlis Glass.”

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