Dale Chihuly is responsible for elevating the status of glassblowing from craft to an art form by creating installation and environmental art, using glass. I’ll discuss the amazing Chihuly exhibit at the MFA Boston in 2011.
Chihuly began creating blown glass "Baskets" in the 1970s after receiving various art degrees and an MFA in Ceramics at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) -- becoming the first American glassblower to work on the island of Murano at the Venini factory.
In 1969 Chihuly would return to RI and establish a glass program where he would teach for the next fifteen years, creating installation pieces such as Glass Forest I & Glass Forest II.
Collaborating with RISD student James Carpenter, Chihuly would also work on large scale projects at the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, WA.
After an automobile accident in the UK in 1976 left Chihuly blind in his left eye, he would return to RI and become the department head of Sculpture and the Program in Glass at RISD.
In the 1980s Chihuly would search for new forms -- developing the famous "Seafoam" series: creating thin and transparent glass by using Optic molds. The "Seafoams" were developed by Chihuly and lead gaffer Benjamin Moore at the Pilchuck Glass School. They would be used in his "Macchia" and "Persian" series.
The "Persians" would become his most popular series – created with heavier and more colorful body wraps, with herringbone or swirling patterns.
The Chihuly exhibit at the MFA Boston in 2011 was titled, "Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass." I particularly liked the "Persian Ceiling" which led people to instinctively lie on the floor and look upwards toward the beautiful shapes and colors of glass as if you were in a glass bottom boat looking at the sea life.
Supporting his environmental art, there was "Neodymium Reeds on Logs" --incorporating glass with natural forms to create a most interesting installation.
Today, Chihuly’s "Green Glass Tree" remains in the open space separating the original MFA building and the new American Wing in Boston.
You can own a photographic print of Dale Chihuly's "Glass-Flowered Ceiling."