My Pilchuck Experience by Santiago Rivera

Santiago Rivera
Santiago Rivera pours hot glass into
his mold at the Pilchuck school.

Pilchuck Glass School is an intriguing experience from which all artists can benefit. While the schedule is fast-paced and demanding, it encourages introspect and growth, creating a forum for ideas to be shared.

Ideas just give birth at Pilchuck because of the energy that is always there once you open yourself up to it. Receiving immediate feedback from fellow students is invigorating. There are also daily slide presentations by teaching assistants, artists-in-residence and staff.

I was selected by lottery to join Pino Cherchi’s class, “Everything But The Kitchen Sink.” Initially, I was skeptical as to whether I would absorb any new methodologies. As the session progressed, I found that I was inundated with more information than I could process. The only tangible evidence of my progress was that I was drawing in a way that I never had before and, my work began to change.

Everyone who attends Pilchuck, no matter their experience, gives as much as they receive. A corner of a classmate’s piece can foster a multitude of design concepts, possibilities which are extrapolated upon by the sheer existence of being a thriving force on paper.

Santiago Rivera
This casting was ultimately incorporated into a work entitled “Ancestral Accession.”

Each student brings a different thought or idea to your concept. In class, unique, different, interesting and helpful techniques were freely shared, forming a community of artistic souls who truly wanted to express. Utilizing the expertise of my instructor and his teaching assistants Jeff Ballard and Mike Hengler, I began to learn to blow glass to complete a vision of 3-dimensional works that had been banging around in my head for years. With their coaching, I surprised myself by forming blown vessels to begin my new line with kinetic accents.

In the end, I learned a great deal from Pino; his unassuming ideas had great impact on my new direction.

I have been fortunate to have attended Pilchuck twice. In 2009, it was due to the generous scholarship provided by Glass Alliance – New Mexico. I am proud to have been the recipient of this gift, and I would like to formally thank all of the members of Glass Alliance NM for helping to make this scholarship available – not only to me but, to all its members.

— Santiago Rivera

A Message from Glass Alliance-New Mexico
Founder Betsy Ehrenberg

Dear friends and fellow GA-NM members,

The story above, from our 2009 Norm Dobbins Scholarship recipient Santiago Rivera, shows how our gift helped him move to a new level in his work.

As you consider your year-end giving, please remember that Glass Alliance-New Mexico is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Your support will help other artists like Santiago and will enable this alliance of artists, galleries and collectors to continue to organize Maestro programs and create educational opportunities for our members and the general public (soon to be members).

Thank you in advance for your generosity. And for those who have already made a donation, we thank you for your support.

Happy holidays,


Dichroic jewelry by Diane Harris
Learn to make jewelry like this at the Taos Institute for Glass Arts on December 20.
Jewelry by Roddie Harris
Roddie Harris’ necklace “Musical Notes.” See more at La Posada December 22 and 23, or call 505-992-6887.
Curtain by Mary Shaffer
Mary Shaffer covers “40 Years in Glass” at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art on January 13.
Glass Alliance - New Mexico is a recognized 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization
with partial support from the City of Santa Fe and the New Mexico Tourism Department.
New Mexico Tourism Department