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Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2019

Glass Art Exhibit: Dale Chihuly

More than any other of Dale Chihuly's sculptures, his <em>Seaforms</em> look like nature's offspring. The exhibition at Emory & Henry includes this three-dimensional, translucent piece.
More than any other of Dale Chihuly's sculptures, his Seaforms look like nature's offspring. The exhibition at Emory & Henry includes this three-dimensional, translucent piece.
Additional photos below »

By Angela Wampler | August 28, 2007

For many years, Chihuly has been a household name, thanks to his use of glass in monumental works, the accessibility of his sculptural installations to the general public, and to the medium of television, which has brought images of Chihuly at work into millions of American homes.

Chihuly received a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design from the University of Washington, Seattle. He studied glass under Littleton at the University of Wisconsin and finished his graduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), receiving a master of Fine Arts in 1968. The following year Chihuly joined the faculty of RISD and established a glass program there. He established the renowned Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle in 1971.

Honors and fame on a national level began to come to Chihuly in the mid-1970s. He received the first of two Individual Artist Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1975 and had a major solo exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in 1978. Since that time, major Chihuly exhibitions have taken place in museums across the United States and abroad.

Chihuly's reputation as a showman in glass is due in large part to his spectacular sculptural installations. Some of these works are permanent, such as those at a shrine in Kyoto, Japan (1991), at the home of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (1998), at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England (1999), and at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas (2004). Other works are temporary, lasting for a few days at most. Examples are "100,000 Pounds of Ice and Neon" in Tacoma, Washington (1993), "Chihuly e Spoleto" at the 38th Spoleto Festival in Italy, and the installation created for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the Governor's Ball in Hollywood, California (1996).

Memorable installation exhibitions include "Chihuly Over Venice" (1995?96), "Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem" (2000), "Chihuly in the Park: A Garden of Glass" in Chicago (2001?02), the "Chihuly Bridge of Glass" in Tacoma (2002), and "Mille Fiori" at the Tacoma Art Museum (2003).

"Chihuly no longer makes the glass himself. A car accident in 1976 deprived him of the sight in one eye, altering his perception of depth. Since then he has become more the conductor of the orchestra, rather than soloist or lead violin in the actual blowing sessions. In many ways this role has freed him. He understands glass entirely, and indeed his early works demonstrate a rare and sensitive skill which now he conveys by drawing, teaching, and engaging directly with the glassblowers as they are working." — Excerpted from a 2001 exhibition catalogue for the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Artist profile: Warrington Colescott
About the exhibit: "Littleton, Chihuly & Friends"

Chihuly has created vitreographs which are distinctly connected to his sculptures. Shown, above, is one of his Soft Cylinder vitreographs, as well as the corresponding sculpture, below.