Renown Glass Blower Dale Chihuly’s Visit to IAIA is Memorable

By MARCUS GRIGNON

A public lecture on Sept. 28, by Dale Chihuly, renowned international glass blowing artist and former professor of IAIA in the 1970’s, is an event that will go down in IAIA history as an overflow crowd gathered to celebrate his accomplishments.  Chihuly lectured on his work, “Chihuly over Venice” and “Chihuly In the Light of Jerusalem,” public art installations of blown glass.

Several members in the audience wore an eye patch in solidarity with Chihuly who wears one to cover the eye blinded in a car accident in 1976. Out of the 260 seats in the auditorium, only one row had IAIA students seated as the rest of the auditorium was filled with Santa Fe residents. “I really wanted to see students here,” Chihuly said, “though I am happy to see you all here.”

Chihuly began developing as an artist in his late teens to early twenties, he said.  After the deaths of his brother and father, he redesigned his basement into a studio/bar lounge. With that project, he found he enjoyed setting up interior spaces, so he decided to go to school for interior design at the University of Washington.

There, the inspiration to weave blown glass together into blankets came to him during a tapestry weaving class; this unique process involves using material foreign to fiber in a weaving, as stated on his website (click here).

 Mastering the Art

After graduation in 1965, Chihuly attended the University of Wisconsin to participate in the first glass blowing program in the U.S. While at the University of Wisconsin, glass blowing became his medium. Over a 45-year career, Chihuly has mastered the art of glassblowing and has held exhibitions in Venice, Italy, Jerusalem, Israel, and his home state of Washington in the Tacoma-Seattle area, using glass to mimic nature.

Dale Chihuly at IAIA, 1974. Photo courtesy of IAIA Archives, Santa Fe, NM (RG03, Box 1, F. 44, I. 2)
Dale Chihuly at IAIA, 1974. Photo courtesy of IAIA Archives, Santa Fe, NM (RG03, Box 1, F. 44, I. 2)

“His installation of glass pieces in a natural setting stimulated my mind and how I look at nature,” says Frosley Fowler, an IAIA student who attended Chihuly’s lecture.

Chihuly’s glasswork in Venice is suspended over the canals and floats in the water. In Jerusalem, Chihuly created a red glass triangular-shaped tunnel for observers to walk through towards a glass globe. At night, it is lit for observers to see. Many people in the audience bore expressions of awe and amazement as the photos were displayed in a slideshow.

Pilchuck Glass School

Together with Anne Gould Hauberg  and John H. Hauberg, Chihuly co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School dedicated to glass art education in 1971 in Stanwood, Wash. According to the school’s website, Pilchuck Glass School “seeks to inspire creativity through transformation of individuals to build community.” Students from all over the world attend Pilchuck to learn and expand their knowledge of glass art.

IAIA alumna, Crystal Worl, attended the Pilchuck’s 17-day summer program this past year. “I got to meet and network with glass artists who were emerging artists like me, to professional glass artists like Paul Marioni and Preston Singletary,” Worl said. “I also learned many valuable skills, techniques, and tricks in kiln-casting that would have taken me years to learn on my own.”

As Chihuly was ushered off stage by IAIA personnel after his lecture, eye-patch impersonators looked on with excitement in one eye.

(Featured Photo:  Dale Chihuly at IAIA, 1974. Photo courtesy of IAIA Archives, Santa Fe, N.M.)

Copyright © IAIA Chronicle 2013

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