Sunday, April 24, 2011

Seaforms and Chandeliers

Happy Easter, everyone!

Today I'd like to share my all time favorite sculpture artist with you:

Dale Chihuly - Glass sculptor

(I took this picture at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2008. This is the lobby ceiling.)

Dale Chihuly is an internationally renowned class sculpture artist that got his start with glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin after graduation in 1965 in order to study glass in the first glass program, and continued his education at the Rhode Island School of Design where he later established a glass program and taught for many years. You can read more of his biography at his website,

My awareness of Chihuly began in 2005 when my high school art teacher and our National Art Honor Society (of which I was the Secretary at the time) organized a trip to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to experience an outdoor exhibit of Chihuly's that mingled his whimsical glass sculptures with the treasures of the garden. It was a gray, misty day, which kind of made it all the more magical. There weren't many people at the garden either, so we got to explore at our heart's content.

Of the many, many sculptures we saw that day, only the following one appears to still be present at the garden:
(This was taken at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in 2010. A friend of mine took this shot of the same sculpture in 2005)

I love Chihuly for his colors, his organic forms, his curving, evolving shapes, his play with light, his visual pop. You know it when you see a Chihuly. There are two on loan in my Mom's building downtown right now, and I noticed them the second I stepped in the lobby. He makes a range of sculptures, whether quite large (like the Bellagio ceiling or fountain toppers or chandeliers...oh my gosh, the chandeliers!) or smaller, like vases, bowls, or the following Seaform. These are not vases or bowls you put fruit in though.

Chihuly, as you'll notice in the video I included for you below, has lost sight in his left eye, which is a great deal of the reason (if not the reason) why he creates his work now from more of a conceptual and managerial standpoint vs. a participatory role. This was caused ironically caused by the glass of a car windshield in a car accident in England in 1976. As a result, he had 256 stitches and was in the hospital for weeks. And yet, despite this disadvantage that might cause most people to stop producing works of art...Chihuly has continued on and completely flourished, making himself into one of the greatest and most revered sculpture artists in the world.

(I got to see this gorgeous White and Oxblood (cream and crimson!!) Seaforms piece at the Columbia Museum of Art with Furman's Art Students League in 2008, I think.)

Here is a very brief time-lapse video to give you an idea of what it takes to put together one of those chandeliers. Just....add like, hours and hours.

And here's a great video to basically let Dale tell you himself about his work and evolution as an artist. When he mentions installations in a casino, that's another view of the Bellagio ceiling! And Youtube is FULL of videos about him and his glass blowing, so that's a good resource. :)

"I never met a color I didn't like." - Dale Chihuly

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