Not everyone has a favorite glass blower…I do. His name is Dale Chihuly and I’ve loved him since I found out about him in high school. So for quite some time. He’s been a known artist for several decades now, but I recognize that still not many are familiar with him or his work. Maybe now you’ll have a favorite glass blower, too.
Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for over a decade.
In 1968, Chihuly was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work at the Venini factory in Venice, Italy. While in Venice, Chihuly observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971 Chihuly co-founded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.
His work is included in over two hundred museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including seven honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Chihuly has created many well-known series of works, among them the Baskets, Persians, and Seaforms, but he is also celebrated for large architectural installations. In 1995 he embarked on the international project, Chihuly over Venice, which involved working in glass factories in Finland, Ireland and Mexico, with the resultant sculptures installed over the canals and piazze of Venice.
In 1999, Chihuly mounted his most ambitious installation to date, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; more than one million visitors attended the Tower of David Museum to view his installations. In 2001 the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, curated the exhibition Chihuly at the V&A. He exhibited at the Salt Lake Art Center during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. His first major glasshouse exhibition, Chihuly in the Park: A Garden of Glass was on display at the Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, was dedicated in 2002.
In 2003, Chihuly begins the Fiori series for the opening exhibition at the Tacoma Art Museumâ€™s new building. TAM designs a permanent installation for its collection of his works. Chihuly at the Conservatory opens at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio. In 2004, Chihuly creates new forms in his Fioriseries for an exhibition at Marlborough Gallery, New York. The Orlando Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, become the first
museums to collaborate and present simultaneous major exhibitions of his work. Presents a glasshouse exhibition at Atlanta Botanical Garden.
In 2005, Chihuly marries Leslie Jackson. Mounts a major garden exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, outside London. Shows at Marlborough Monaco and Marlborough Fine Art, London. Exhibits at the
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Florida. In 2006, Mother, Viola, dies at the age of ninety-eight in Tacoma, Washington. Also in 2006 Chihuly presents glasshouse exhibitions at the Missouri Botanical Garden and The New York Botanical Garden. Chihuly in Tacoma, hotshop sessions at the Museum of Glass, reunites Chihuly and glassblowers from important periods in his development.