Put simply, Dale Chihuly is an artist who does not rest on his laurels. Rather, his artmaking practice consistently pushes the boundaries of his chosen media, with experimentation being central to his work. Whether stretching the limits of glass, such as in his sculptural series Rotolo, or exploring entirely new media, Chihuly finds comfort in a good challenge. This boundary-pushing spirit is exemplified by his work with the mediums of both ice and neon, which we will explore in this month’s series #ChihulyWebShorts: Dale Through the Decades – “Ice & Neon.”
In the first installment of this three-part series, Chihuly reveals an affinity for neon which began in graduate school. Undaunted by the technical challenges involved in working with neon, Chihuly was inspired to create with the material due to its “amazing source of light.” While different from blown glass, neon boldly transmits his vibrant color palette within installations that are as intricately shaped as they are brightly hued.
In the second part of this series, Chihuly takes on the extremely daring task of merging ice and neon. While collaborating on his neon projects with fellow artist Jamie Carpenter, the two became inspired by driving by an ice house, and their minds immediately committed to achieving something that had never been done before.
Continuing with our third installment, we see Chihuly take his previous experimentation and present it as a massive exhibition entitled "100,000 Pounds of Ice and Neon." The aptly named show took place within Tacoma, Washington, and featured ice flown in from Alaska. On view at the Tacoma Dome for two days, the piece consisted of thousands of feet of neon encased in 100,000 pounds of ice, which slowly melted away over the duration of the exhibit. He collaborated with three local neon production companies in Tacoma and Seattle to ensure that his whimsical vision was carried out.
Chihuly said of the concept, "I enjoy seeing the ice disappearing as it melts, it's transforming."