“I used to think that it was the glass that was so mysterious, and then I discovered that it was the air that went into it that was so miraculous.” ~ Dale Chihuly, The Brooklyn Museum.
Happy Birthday Dale Chihuly the famous glass artist from Tacoma, Washington. Born September 20th 1941, his works are considered unique to the field of blown glass. The technical difficulties of working with glass forms are considerable, yet Chihuly uses it as the primary medium for decorations, installations and environmental artwork.
From Interior Design to Glass Master
Before Chihuly became famous in this line of work, he had no interest, he was actually studying interior design. Through a series of opportunities and events he received a Master of Science degree in sculpture. From there we went on to receive a master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture. He was awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant for his work in glass, as well as a Fulbright Fellowship. He traveled to Venice to work at the Venini factory on the island of Murano, where he first saw the team approach to blowing glass.
Blinded by Glass
In 1976, while Chihuly was in England, he was involved in a head-on car accident during which he flew through the windshield. His face was severely cut by glass and he was blinded in his left eye. After recovering, he continued to blow glass until he dislocated his right shoulder in a 1979 bodysurfing accident. No longer able to hold the glass blowing pipe, he hired others to do the work. Chihuly explained the change in a 2006 interview, saying “Once I stepped back, I liked the view,” and pointed out that it allowed him to see the work from more perspectives and enabled him to anticipate problems faster. Chihuly describes his role as “more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor.”
Trials & Success
Chihuly has been very successful in his career along with his share of trials. Starting in his 40s, Chihuly has suffered from bipolar disorder. Chihuly said he understands the problem more than he used to. “I thought I couldn’t work well when I was down, but then I noticed the work could still be good,” he said. “The reverse is true, too.”
Regardless of trials, he has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art. His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including twelve honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Watch below from Dale Chihuly’s Persians Series