It was love at first sight. A instant romance. There they were; suspended from a high ceiling, covering the atrium with a riot of colour. The incredibly alive forms and their inner light instantly took me in. I couldn’t stop glancing back to take one more eye full as I walked to the suite ahead to meet my doctor, steered by my husband who had realized the effect the sculpture had had on me. It was a masterpiece like none that I had seen before. On my way out, I stood at the railing in front of the hanging sculpture which had (rightly) taken the place of the conventional chandelier and continued to gaze; soaking in its glory.
I looked down at the foyer below and lo and behold! There was a similar masterpiece hanging there. This artistic mass of organically-shaped sculptures added colour and cheer to the lobby levels of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation at Mountain View, California. It was a refreshing sight for all the sick people who walked in there for medical care.
A little research later that evening concluded that the glass sculptures were the works of world-renowned, American glass blower and sculptor, Dale Chihuly. (To know more about the artist, visit his website www.chihuly.com)
A couple of months later, I happened to visit the San Jose Museum of Art and by then I had read enough about Chihuly to know that apart from the exhibits in the galleries of the Museum, the highlight of my visit would be the three Chihuly sculptures hanging from the lobby ceiling. I was taken in (all over again!) by the magnificence of what I saw. The blue, yellow and red sculptures were beautifully set like jewels in an otherwise austere, plain and neutral background.
And the romance continued. The most recent encounter with Chihuly’s masterpieces was at The Bellagio at Las Vegas. The ceiling was a visual feast, a glittering showcase of Chihuly’s sculptures; absolutely breathtaking! The Bellagio also had the Chihuly Store where the Master’s works were on display/sale. It was a complete treat! Even the smallest of pieces had the same attention to detail that he invests in his large public installations.
Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly first discovered glass at the University of Washington. He then enrolled to study glass at the University of Wisconsin and later at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He later worked at the Venini glass factory in Venice and in 1971, co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. He has been at the forefront of this incredibly complex art since then with his work being celebrated by over 200 museums all over the world. And let us not even start counting the honours and awards. Be it his sea forms or his breathtaking chandeliers, botanical creations or large architectural installations, he never ceases to dazzle.
From Venice to Jerusalem to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London ; his work draws millions of visitors and all of them feel the same awe I did. Dale Chihuly sure has captured the attention and the hearts of all art lovers around the world. And for a good reason. Even though, he was almost blinded in one eye after an accident, he still is able to see in glass, endless possibilities. He is a true artist because his work inspires, uplifts people and fills their heart with joy. He has converted glass into a magical medium to express organic beauty. The like of which only he can create.