Fil-Am glass artist curates arts program alumni exhibit in Seattle
Filipino American glass artist Trenton Quiocho, an alumnus of the Hilltop Artists program at the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington, has curated the exhibit “Gather: 27 Years of Hilltop Artists in the Tacoma Art Museum,” which is on until September 4.
Quiocho joined the program in junior high school after taking glass blowing as an elective. He was able to be on the production team in the hotshop for five years, until the age of 21.
The Hilltop Artists program began in 1994 and provides Black, Indigenous and People of Color youth in Tacoma the chance to work in a hotshop and create blown glass.
“Hilltop Artists creates opportunities,” Quiocho told the International Examiner. “The art and glass community is a white male dominated field. Having access to a hotshop is expensive and not many people can do it; providing that space and access is huge.”
Since his formative stint at the Hilltop Artists program, Quicho has pursued glass blowing full time and started working at GlassyBaby in Seattle.
He earned continuing education scholarships in glass blowing and eventually reached the gaffer position, the lead glass blower. Quiocho also kept working for Hilltop Artists, “creating access for underrepresented people within my community.”
Quiocho also worked at the Tacoma Glass Museum for the Hot Shop Heroes program that teaches military veterans how to blow glass together.
He is trying to use glass to explore his Filipino American identity and heritage. Among his glass pieces at the exhibit is “Bulul,” traditionaly a carved wooden figure of a seated human form from the Philippines.
Quiocho’s other piece, “Trapped” uses Venetian glass technique to create fish trap shapes with Venetian patterns on the outside. It is wryly symbolic of his identity’s predicament of “belonging here and yet not belonging.”
To curate the Gather exhibit, Quiocho reached out to Hilltop Artists alumni and accommodated as many of them into the 2,000-square foot exhibit area, including 21 artists who work in many different mediums.
Gather: 27 Years of Hilltop Artists is in the Tacoma Art Museum through September 4, 2022.