CELEBRATING 25 Years
In 1994, the Hilltop neighborhood in Tacoma had become one of the most troubled areas on the West Coast. Recognizing the need to provide youth with an alternative to being recruited by the groups proliferating violence in the streets of the city, Tacoma-born artist Dale Chihuly joined with Kathy Kaperick and co-founded Hilltop Artists.
The inaugural group of 20 youth from the neighborhood met in the former woodshop at Jason Lee Middle School. They were introduced to a range of sculptural mediums, including woodworking. Glass work involved converting Snapple and pop bottles into blown glass drinkware and vases.
In addition to the full size hot shop added to Jason Lee Middle School, Hilltop Artists has grown to include a hot shop at Wilson High School and a flameworking studio at Ford Middle School. Tacoma Public Schools continues to partner with Hilltop Artists, highlighting the organization as a positive force in increasing students’ academic and interpersonal success.
Hilltop Artists serves over 650 students a year through its programming, and continues to provide tuition-free glass instruction to youth who may face significant obstacles to success. Students are never turned away based on past behavior, grades, disabilities, or artistic talent. Student graduation rates and other indicators of success reflect the impact of the community students gain through learning glass art at Hilltop Artists. Hilltop Artists is dedicated to its mission:
Using glass art to connect young people from diverse cultural and
economic backgrounds to better futures.