Dale Chihuly
Glass sculptor



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Dale Chihuly
Glass sculptor
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Date of Birth

September 20, 1941

Place of Birth

Tacoma, Washington, U.S.A.

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ajardini's picture

Sr. Editor

Chihuly’s an art world superstar and it’s easy to see why.  He makes impossibly complex sculptures out of brightly colored glass.  While some of us struggle to put together Ikea furniture, this guy is creating huge, twisting forms through glassblowing, which is an insane process by the way.  Though the finished results may look like cute, Dr. Suess-ian sea creatures, making them requires heating glass to white-hot, molten temperatures and then blowing it into a bubble like the hardcore glassmith you are.  Who would have thought glassblowing was so metal?

Chihuly seems to have picked a risky profession for someone who is as accident prone as he is.  He was thrown out of a car in the 1970s and, ironically, the shattered glass from the windshield badly cut his face and blinded him in his left eye.  On the plus side, his eye patch makes him look like a badass pirate. A few years later he was in a bodysurfing accident and messed up his shoulder, so now he has a team of people who chance getting injured by the molten hot lava glass instead of doing it himself. Smart man.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly (/ɪˈhli/) (born September 20, 1941) is an American glass sculptor and entrepreneur. His works are considered to possess outstanding artistic merit in the field of blown glass, "moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture." The technical difficulties of working with glass forms are considerable, yet Chihuly uses it as the primary medium for installations and environmental artwork.

Early life

Dale Patrick Chihuly was born on September 20, 1941, in Tacoma, Washington. His parents were George and Viola Chihuly; his paternal grandfather was born in Slovakia. In 1956, his older brother and only sibling, George, died in a Navy aviation training accident in Pensacola, Florida. Two years later, in 1958, Chihuly's father died of a heart attack at the age of 51.

Chihuly had no interest in continuing his formal education after graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1959. However, at his mother's urging, he enrolled at the College of Puget Sound A year later, he transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle to study interior design. In 1961, he joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Kappa Epsilon chapter), and the same year he learned how to melt and fuse glass. Chihuly became bored with his studies, and in 1962 he dropped out of the university to study art in Florence. He later traveled to the Middle East where he met architect Robert Landsman. Their meeting and his time abroad spurred Chihuly to return to his studies. In 1963, he took a weaving class where he incorporated glass shards into tapestries. He received an award for his work from the Seattle Weavers Guild in 1964. Chihuly graduated from the University of Washington in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in interior design.

Chihuly began experimenting with glassblowing in 1965, and in 1966 he received a full scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studied under Harvey Littleton, who had established the first glass program in the United States at the university. In 1967, Chihuly received a Master of Science degree in sculpture. After graduating, he enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he met and became close friends with Italo Scanga. Chihuly earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the RISD in 1968. That same year, 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. After returning to the United States, Chihuly spent the first of four consecutive summers teaching at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. In 1969, he traveled to Europe, in part to meet Erwin Eisch in Germany and Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová in Czechoslovakia. Chihuly donated a portion of a large exhibit to his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, in 1997 and it is on permanent display in the Kohl Center. In 2013 the University awarded him a Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Dale Chihuly.