Dale Chihuly, born in 1941 in Washington, is an American artist whose glass sculptures—often presented in complex and dynamic public projects—led to a resurgence of interest in that medium. In 1976, an automobile accident left Chihuly blind in one eye, and thereafter he was dependent on assistant gaffers (glassblowers) to execute his distinctive designs. Chihuly’s works in glass both echo and extend glass’s historical relationship with functionality.
In 1968, He established the RISD glassblowing program and in 1971 founded the influential Pilchuck Glass School north of Seattle. There, he created the first of a number of environmental installations—a group of clear glass bulbs floating on Pilchuck Pond. He continued to teach at RISD until 1980.
Chihuly’s vibrantly coloured organic glass creations are immediately recognizable. His technical innovations enabled the production of a tremendous range of patterns, colours, and textures. Among his several extended series were Blankets, for which he used cylindrical forms covered with patterns derived from Native American blankets; Seaforms, shapes evoking sea urchins, shells, and other marine life; and Chandeliers, large-scale hanging sculptures illuminated by natural light sources. Variations in scale made it possible for onlookers to experience his pieces as intimate personal objects or to be completely immersed in them, as in his prismatic interior installations in a variety of public spaces.Download the artist biography