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Dave Chihuly: Artist, Visionary, Inspiration

David Leight

Posted on October 16 2019

Dave Chihuly: Artist, Visionary, Inspiration

Dale Chihuly is an incredible glass artist and visionary. He has been creating glass works for over forty years and is a prominent name in the contemporary art world. Dale is viewed as a highly successful artist and his net worth has been estimated at $10 million. His work can be seen in many different galleries across the country and even internationally. Known for his bright colors, large-scale projects, use of light, and love of nature, Dale’s body of work provides a profound experience for many.

Education

Originally from Washington, Dale attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a B.A. in interior design in 1965. From there he continued his education with a M.S. in sculpture in 1967 studying glassblowing under Harvey Littleton at the University of Wisconsin. Dale received a full scholarship to study with Littleton who had established the first glass program in the United States. Following his MS degree, Dale received an M.F.A. in 1968 from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and went on to receive a scholarship to work at Venini Fabrica in Murano, Italy.

After he received his MS at the University of Wisconsin, Dale started teaching a summer class at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, which he continued to do for several summers thereafter. In 1969 Dale returned to the United States from Italy and created the first RISD glassblowing program as well as cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School north of Seattle in 1971.

Artist Dale Chihuly in a black shirt surrounded by nature leaning on a railing.

Artistic Method

Early in Dale’s career he created a new model of glassblowing after sustaining injuries that required him to create his art with a team of people. This collaborative environment was unheard of at that time in the glassblowing world.

Dale was involved in a car accident in London in 1976 that propelled him out of the windshield causing severe lacerations on his face and left him blind in one eye. He later sustained a shoulder injury while bodysurfing in 1979 leaving him unable to hold the pipe required to blow glass.

Due to these physical limitations, Dale’s creative process evolved into that of an artistic director. He has said that once he took a step back from his role as the creator, he found that he enjoyed being able to see and control the artistic process from the outside looking in. He is able to manipulate the glass and art in ways that he otherwise would not have working on his own. Not to mention the large scale installations his team helps create, pack, ship, and assemble once on location.

Hot, orange glass being blown in an artist studio.

Where Is He Now

Dale is now almost 80 years old and is still actively involved with creating art. He has expanded over the years to many mediums and continues to produce paintings and sculptures out of a variety of materials though continues to work mostly in glass. You can find his work in a plethora of museums worldwide and many of them nationally. His work and exhibits continue to be a huge success and he remains a significant part of glass art history.

Influence on LeightWorks

Dale was a huge influence on LeightWorks artist David Leight as a student at Pilchuck Glass School where David started creating glass sculptures. David’s work eventually progressed to the handmade crystal jewelry that he sells today. Based in sunny San Diego, David creates the crystal pendants, earrings, bracelets, and rings all with the concept of using light to create beauty. Dale continues to be an inspiration today for David’s handmade crystal jewelry and David reflects fondly on the time that he spent at Pilchuck.

Permanent Exhibitions:

  • Oklahoma City Museum of Art
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass (Seattle)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Galleries

  • Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA
  • Imago Galleries, Palm Desert, CA
  • Sandra Ainsley Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
  • LA Louver, Venice, CA
  • Schantz Galleries, Stockbridge, MA
  • Whitestone Gallery, Hong Kong
  • Whitestone Gallery, Taipei City, Taiwan

 

 

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