The first time I saw a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly (at the V&A in London) I was gobsmacked. I could not believe the detail, the color. Nor could I fathom the amount of time and patience his craft must require. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Chihuly’s work, here’s a bit of background: He was born in Tacoma, Washington, in 1941 and studied interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, he continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1968, he had the opportunity to study glass making in Venice and that is where his passion truly blossomed.
Chihuly’s glass sculptures appear to be living, which is what makes them so astounding. They mimic the forms of plant life, undersea coral and anemone with curly tendrils and bulbous, organic shapes, all fused together in great, globular clusters. His work is featured in more than 200 museums worldwide, as well as public gardens and numerous residences. He has a permanent collection at the Vinoy Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida, which is the most extensive of its kind in the United States.
Chihuly has been the recipient of countless awards, including the National Endowment Fund and twelve honorary doctorates in the arts. He is truly an American treasure. I am particularly enamored of his chandeliers. Lit from within, they are incredibly beautiful and capture the imagination in the most unexpected way. Below are five of Chihuly’s beautiful lights.
1. At Kew Gardens in London
2. At the Vinoy in St. Petersburg, Florida
3. Close-up of a Chandelier at the Vinoy
4. At the V&A in London
5. At the Oaklahoma City Art Museum