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About Dale Chihuly (Artist)
With his sculptural works that fuse naturalistic forms with vibrant colors, Dale Chihuly has established himself as one of the world’s preeminent contemporary makers of art glass. The Tacoma, Washington, native’s experimental techniques — manifest in large-scale glass sculptures, installations and environmental artworks alongside smaller table-top pieces — combine fine art, design, architecture and craft. Chihuly’s inspired creative energy has brought glass blowing to a place at the forefront of the arts in the United States.
Chihuly’s prolific body of work is coupled with a dedication to artistic instruction, education and community. Trained in interior design at the University of Washington, he pursued graduate work with Harvey Littleton, who built the first academic art glass program in the U.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After further studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, Chihuly was awarded a 1968 Fulbright Fellowship to study glass blowing at the Venini glass factory on the island of Murano in Venice, where he was first introduced to group collaboration in glass making. Not only has Chihuly been committed to his own improvement as an artist, but he has also devoted much of his career to sharing his knowledge. He returned to RISD as an instructor, and after working there for more than a decade and he cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State in 1971. An automobile accident in 1976 left Chihuly blind in one eye; a subsequent injury while bodysurfing weakened one shoulder, leaving him reliant on assistant glassblowers to execute his designs.
Chihuly’s skills and technical innovations have allowed him to make pieces in an astonishing array of patterns, textures and hues — yet his work can be recognized immediately. He has created several notable extended series of artworks. These include his “Seaforms,” which evoke shells, starfish and other marine animals; “Blankets,” — composed of cylindrical units in patterns suggested by Native American textiles; and, most famously, his grand chandeliers made up of scores of curling, curving, pepper-shaped elements. Whether large or small, as you will see on these pages, the works of Dale Chihuly blend practical flair and bravura artistry. They are a highlight of any contemporary art and design collection.