Dale Patrick Chihuly is an American artist and entrepreneur, known for his unique and marvelous works with glass. He is a living legend known for creating masterpieces such as sculptures of glass. He lost his brother and father at a young age but his mother motivated him to move on in life and later he developed the skill of glassblowing through which he enriched the world of arts with his beautiful artworks. Despite his personal losses which include loss of vision in one eye and a dislocated shoulder, he constantly worked on inspiring and unparalleled designs. His structures are complex in design and with his inherent genius produced some of the most scintillating marvels. His glasswork is concerned with work of ceilings, chandeliers and many more objects which continue to inspire and influence everyone. The magnitude of risk in his work is of a significant degree as it consists of dealing with glass but the quality of work he crafts is unmatchable in comparison to other historical glass sculptures. His determination made him an incredible artist and paved way for future generations to pursue it as a career and achieve excellence in it. He is one of those artists who immortalized their existence on earth through their everlasting pieces of work.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on September 20, 1941 in Tacoma, Washington to George Chihuly, a meatpacker and union organizer and Viola Magnuson Chihuly, a homemaker.
In 1957, when he was in high school, his brother died in a flight training accident in U.S. Navy. A year later, his father died of a heart attack at the age of 51.
The deaths of his brother and father left him in despair and sadness. His mother encouraged him to pursue his studies sincerely. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and got enrolled at the College of Puget Sound in 1959.
He was transferred to the University of Washington in 1960 from where he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Interior Designing in 1965.
In 1967, he received his Master of Science in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the guidance of Harvey Littleton, a glass artist and educator.
In 1968, he received Master of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) on a Fulbright Fellowship in Venice.
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In 1969, he was hired to start a glass department in RISD where he was able to artistically mould the glass and perform experiments on glassblowing. He encouraged his students to create new designs and objects using molten glass.
In 1971, he founded the Pilchuck Glass School near Stanwood, Washington with the help of John Hauberg and Anne Gould Hauberg. He loved to experiment with the use of glass in different and unconventional ways.
In 1976, he encountered a career-altering incident, which caused blindness in his left eye. But he was not discouraged at this loss; instead his conviction of producing artistic designs through the use of glass was deepened.
In 1979, after he gained some respect among critics and audiences for his work, he suffered another blow to his career. He dislocated his shoulder and was not able hold the glassblowing pipe, a technique which he mastered all his life.
As he was no longer able to practically work on glass, he employed a skilled team of blowers for this work and focused his mind on designing new set pieces under his supervision. When asked about his role at that time, he described it as "more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor".
Since then, he is working on various forms of glass objects including baskets, chandeliers, orbs and many more. His phenomenal craftsmanship in glassblowing created a path for future generations to achieve new heights in this intricate art.
In 2006, he filed a lawsuit against Bryan Rubino, a former employee and Robert Kaindl, a businessman accusing them of copyright and trademark infringement. This lawsuit was later settled with both the parties independently.
In 1995, he traveled with a group of 30 glassblowers to some of the finest cities of the world and created assemblages of giant chandeliers for the canals of Venice. This masterpiece created an awe-inspiring demonstration of light bouncing from the water to the glass and back again.
He did the work of glass ceiling at Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.
One of his spectacular works was his exhibition ‘In the Light of Jerusalem’ at Israel’s Tower of David in 2000.
In 2011, he created the ‘Chihuly Garden and Glass’ in the Seattle Center Park for his exhibitions, which opened for public in 2012.
Awards & Achievements
He is the recipient of Institute of International Education Gala 2011 Fritz Redlich Alumni Award.
He has received 12 honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowments of the Art.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1987, he married playwright, Sylvia Peto but later got divorced in 1991.
In 2005, he married Leslie Jackson and they were blessed with a boy, Jackson Chihuly.