Since 1971 the Pilchuck Glass School has pushed the limits of a medium that can last centuries or shatter in an instant. Narrated by Academy Award-winner Jeff Bridges, Pilchuck: A Dance with Fire documents the remarkable convergence of visionaries, culture and good luck that made Pilchuck the world-class art school it is today. This one-of-a-kind film is being fed by NETA to public television stations in September 2015.
The story of the people and events that make up the past 44 years of Pilchuck history is told through firsthand accounts by those who transformed it from a makeshift summer workshop to an arts center that attracts glass masters and students from all over the globe. Founded by iconic figure Dale Chihuly and a few art school friends in the counterculture days of the early 1970s, the Pilchuck Glass School pushed the boundaries from its very beginnings. Started as an experiment in living off the land and making art by hand, the school quickly became an international crossroads for diverse and historically important traditions in glassmaking.
Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Lino Tagliapietra, Kiki Smith and dozens of others describe the remarkable glass art movement and their roles in shaping its course and direction. An entertaining mix of interviews, rare stills, color slides, home movies and music from the past four decades move the story forward with historical context. Beautiful glass-blowing sequences explore the creative skills of artists working with glass in a variety of dynamic ways.
Through the roller coaster that is the school’s history we see the development of the artists who remade glass as an expressive medium. The film embodies the “Pilchuck Spirit,” the highly collaborative ways artists work, teach and create that empowered generations to explore and share all the possibilities that glass has as an art form.
Or as Pilchuck founding artistic director Dale Chihuly puts it, “If you have an exciting place to be and you’re isolated in the country and you’re having fun, and doing some great work—what could more could you ask for?”