Renowned glass artist William Morris recently spent four days at Punahou, conversing with students and the larger community about his work and lessons learned during his storied career.
Morris, who retired from glass blowing in 2007, is considered one of the great American masters of glass art. Over his 30-year career, he created a body of work widely admired for its artistry, innovation and powerful reflection of ancient cultures (Egyptian, Asian, Native American). Such pieces have been showcased globally at venues, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corning Museum of Glass and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Since his retirement, Morris has explored passions outside of glass studios. He also hopes to inspire young people with lessons he’s learned from his own life. “If I had a message to kids it would be to have faith,” he said during an interview. “It never gets any easier. You just develop more faith that things will work out if you're just being a good person, following your passion and being disciplined. I could never have thought of the life that I have today. I just kept showing up, and I developed more and more faith.”
Morris visited Punahou as part of the school’s ongoing residency program. Along with participating in chapel sessions, a public forum and classroom talks, Morris made a rare foray back into a glass studio when he met with students in Mark Mitsuda’s advanced glassblowing class.
During that visit, Morris answered questions and showed students how to apply various techniques. Although he told them he was “rusty” because he had not worked with glass in many years, his demonstrations were captivating.
“It was such an inspiration; it had a profound effect on me,” said David Imig ’19, a student in the class. “Seeing someone who’s so much better than I am and being so incredibly humble… it was special to get to watch that.”
Overall, Morris said he was impressed with what he observed at Punahou. “I'm just in awe of the Punahou community,” he said. “This place is extraordinary. When I see these kids running around in their bare feet… First of all, that they're allowed to run on campus, and then they're running in their bare feet. I hear all the laughter. I see the beautiful architecture, the landscaping, the plants, the gardens and the love for these kids. It's inspiring.”
William Morris' residency at Punahou was made possible by Chris ’67 and Christine Smith. Their generous support provides enhanced educational opportunities for our students.