Partially by Anita Finley and Wikipedia

Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly

There is so much art in the world and yet, some of it stands out with unbelievable accomplishment. That is how I think of Chihuly and what he created with his imaginative glass sculptures.

Dale Chihuly was born in 1941 and 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.

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 body surfing 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.” San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Erin Glass wrote that she “wonders at the vision of not just the artist Chihuly, but the very successful entrepreneur Chihuly, whose estimated sales by 2004 was reported by The Seattle Times as $29 million.” Chihuly and his team of artists were the subjects of the documentary Chihuly Over Venice. They were also featured in many other documentaries.

My first awareness of Chihuly came about in and around the 1980s when my husband and I were traveling in Venice and caught sight of what we thought were balloons attached to lamp posts in an open area. When we looked closer, they were in fact, glass balls! We were very excited by this new form of art and found that the artist, Chihuly was using the famous Murano glass institute as his new-found operation.

After that encounter, we began to see more of his whimsical and colorful glass works in museums and gardens. Now, you can go to Fairchild Gardens in South Miami and see on permanent display many of his sculptures, in their ponds, on grassy walkways and in trees. What a delight!