Founders Totem Pole

Pilchuck Glass School celebrated our thirtieth anniversary in 2001 by initiating a project underscoring the distinctive cultural diversity of our region’s origins and our aims. A commemorative totem pole was created and installed on the grounds to honor our three founders: John H. Hauberg, Anne Gould Hauberg, and Dale Chihuly.

Carved from a single tree selected and dedicated for this purpose from Haines, Alaska, the pole features the design and artistry of four Native artists working at Alaskan Indian Arts. The pole was shipped from Haines to Pilchuck where students completed the carving and painting of the pole, then created cast glass and neon elements to fulfill the design.

Artist David Svenson, an experienced carver and a former Pilchuck instructor, initiated the project. Artist and Pilchuck trustee, Preston Singletary (himself of Tlingit heritage), helped shape the proposal and obtained board support for the project. To enable Native student enrollment, Pilchuck provided many full scholarships and travel stipends. The totem pole, in its artistic inception, educational process, and the symbolic role of connecting communities, helped to realize one of the school’s priorities by enhancing diversity.

The class and the installation were structured to involve many people and many cultures. The installation ceremony engaged the neighboring Swinomish tribe (whose ancestral lands Pilchuck occupies) and Tlingit participants (including carvers and two traditional singers), as well as non-native guests. The pole was installed with the consultation of the artists, Tlingit and Swinomish tribal leaders.

Historically, totem poles were used to honor a person or to tell an ancestral story. Svenson and Singletary decided the story of the pole would represent the beginning of Pilchuck and celebrate its founders. Based on this concept, Svenson and Singletary collaborated with four Native carvers to create the design.

The pole consists of three human forms: a chief’s figure representing the late John Hauberg, who underwrote Pilchuck’s early years and donated the fifty-four acres where the campus stands; a raven figure (who in Tlingit mythology brought light into the world) representing Dale Chihuly; and a woman in a Native ceremonial robe wearing a conical hat which symbolizes wisdom and identifies Anne Gould Hauberg, whose belief in artists and creativity drew the other founders together.

The uniqueness of the totem pole project offers several opportunities for extended educational service. The pole itself represents a model of collaboration– a work of art whose form originates from use in tribal ceremonies, yet here is created for a secular role on a contemporary campus. The pole is a keystone of instruction and inspiration for all who visit campus.

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