Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Several years back Missouri Botanical Garden had a Chihuly glass exhibit placed throughout the gardens, which John and I did see.  And thankfully those gardens purchased some of the glass artwork so they could forever remain with the park.  Consequently John and I are very familiar with his work, and we have seen more of it during our travels over the states.  At the Chihuly exhibit in Seattle we learned more about the artist and also were able to view the whole scope of his work as it has emerged over the past fifty years.  The information which I provide in this posting, regarding the artist and his work, I obtained from the numerous interpretive signs and videos which are available at this art museum.  Chihuly grew up in the northwestern part of our country and his work Niijima Floats was inspired by his memory of Japanese fishing floats found along the beaches of Puget Sound, and by a visit to the Japanese Island of Niijima.
  Over the years Dale Chihuly has traveled extensively and applied what he has learned in his travels to his glass artwork.  He has been the only American glassblower to work at the Venni Factory in Venice.  In 1886, while experimenting with new forms, he started nestling small shapes into larger forms.  From that he moved to an architectural framework, mounting them on larger pieces of glass and suspending them overhead.  This was his Persian Ceiling series.  I could forever sit under this ceiling and always be fascinated by its many shapes and colors!
It was in 1971, while an art instructor at Rhode Island School of Design, that Chihuly began to experiment with blowing botanical forms.  The Glass Forest elements, pictured below, were created by simultaneously blowing and pouring molten glass from the top of a stepladder to the floor- where the deflated bubbles solidified.  The glass stalks are illumined with electrically charged neon and argon.
In his travels to Japan Chihuly admired the Japanese art of flower arrangement, which inspired his Ikebana Series.  I have seen an Ikebana exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, so this was interesting to me.
In the garden outside of the art museum there are four monumental Chihuly glass sculptures.  There are also other installations nestled among a beautiful backdrop of plants, flowers and trees.

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