In the future, I hope people will enjoy and work with the light and color the world has to offer; go out on a limb and turn dreams and ideas into reality.
Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem
Tower of David Museum, Citadel, 2000
Out on a limb…that’s where an artist works. When it came to Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem, I set out to work on a project and I didn’t know what it would end up being when I finished. I knew I wanted to make something unique for the people of the City of Light, so I brought sixty-four tons of Alaskan ice – known as “Arctic Diamonds.” I arranged them in a way that would mirror the existing old stone walls, and to create the array of colors, I placed 40 lights with colored gels behind the ice.
As the wall of 24 blocks of ice began to melt, it didn’t matter if people saw it as a symbol for the melting of tensions that separate people or if they came to see ice from Alaska melt. However, for me, it broke down all religious barriers: Arab, Muslim, Christian. What it proved to me was how much art is needed and can affect people’s lives – more than 1 million people visited the exhibition.
The idea of taking these huge blocks of crystal from Alaska halfway around the world to Israel was a dream, an idea, and I went for it. It is up to all of us to embrace the crazy ideas we have and make the future bright. In the future, I hope people will enjoy and work with the light and color the world has to offer; go out on a limb and turn dreams and ideas into reality…that is how you succeed in creating something beautiful.
Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade.
In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly co-founded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.
His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including ten honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works, among them, Cylinders and Baskets in the 1970s; Seaforms, Macchia, Venetians, and Persians in the 1980s; Niijima Floats and Chandeliers in the 1990s; and Fiori in the 2000s. He is also celebrated for large architectural installations. In 1986, he was honored with a solo exhibition, Dale Chihuly objets de verre, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris. In 1995, he began Chihuly Over Venice, for which he created sculptures at glass factories in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico, then installed them over the canals and piazzas of Venice.
In 2000, Chihuly mounted a challenging exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; more than 1 million visitors attended the Tower of David Museum to view his installations. In 2001, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London curated the exhibition Chihuly at the V&A. Chihuly’s lifelong affinity for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. His Garden Cycle began in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Chihuly exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London, in 2005. Other major exhibition venues include the de Young Museum in San Francisco, in 2008, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2011.