Since 2002, Jared Terpak has worked behind the scenes at Gates Performing Arts Center (GPAC), inspiring and guiding students to design and build every set from scratch. After receiving a B.A. at the University of Oregon, Terpak made his way back home to the Big Island. In January 2018, he became chair of the fine arts department, helping, along with his K-12 colleagues, to sustain a more cohesive approach to the arts at HPA. This year, in addition to serving as technical director for GPAC, his teaching load includes Stagecraft, Woodworking, and Freshmen Fundamentals of the Arts Backstage.
What are the top five songs on your playlist for your set design class?
That’s a tough question. I usually play it safe with hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s. I play a lot of upbeat fun stuff from the Beatles, Bob Marley, Bruno Mars—you know, stuff the students can sing along with and everybody knows. Music is a big part of my class, and I feel it is a key element in designing and creating art.
What do you love about teaching at HPA?
The students, faculty colleagues, the well-equipped facilities, and the creative freedom I am given.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Hawi and Kapaau in North Kohala. I went to Kohala Elementary and High school and graduated with the class of 1998.
What fostered a love of set design for you?
Growing up with creative artist/builder-type parents. They encouraged me to follow my passion for art and design, never once telling me to follow a money-related career. I also had some amazing teachers in college who really saw what I was capable of and who mentored me in a way that fostered this love of design.
What is your favorite place on the island?
Hands down easy question. My home, North Kohala.
Do you have any particular hobbies or passions outside of work?
I am an avid outdoorsman. I love hiking, camping, and surfing, as well as farming on our land.
If you were a wood shop tool, which one would you be and why?
I would be a chop-saw. The most dependable and widely used tool in the shop. Capable of making the most complex and precise cuts.