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 over a decade.
In 1968, Chihuly was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work at the Venini factory in Venice, Italy. While in Venice, Chihuly observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington. 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 over two hundred museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including eight honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Chihuly has created many well-known series of works, among them the Baskets, Persians, and Seaforms, but he is also celebrated for large architectural installations. In 1995, he embarked on the international project, Chihuly Over Venice, which involved working in glass factories in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico, with the resultant sculptures installed over the canals and piazze of Venice.
In 1999, Chihuly mounted his most challenging exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; more than one 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. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, was dedicated in 2002. Chihuly's lifelong affinity for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. His garden exhibition was first presented in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. In 2005, Chihuly exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London, and at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida in both 2006 and 2007. His most ambitious exhibition to date opened at the de Young Museum in San Francisco in June, 2008.
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