A chronology of the life of Dale Chihuly
Early Life, Education, Travels
Dale Chihuly born’'41
Born September 20 in Tacoma, Washington, to George Chihuly, a butcher and union organizer, and Viola Magnuson Chihuly, a homemaker and avid gardener.
Older brother dies’'57
Older brother and only sibling, George, dies in a navy flight-training accident in Pensacola, Florida.
His father suffers a fatal heart attack at age fifty-one, and his mother has to go to work.
Graduates from high school in Tacoma. His mother persuades him to enroll at College of Puget Sound (now University of Puget Sound) in his hometown.
University of Washington’'60
An interest in art (including a term paper on Van Gogh) and his remodeling of his mother’s recreation room motivate him to transfer to University of Washington in Seattle, where he studies interior design and architecture.
Europe and Middle East’'62
Disillusioned with his studies, he leaves school and travels to Florence to study art. Frustrated by his inability to speak Italian, he moves on to the Middle East.
Israel; returns to UW’'63
Works on a kibbutz in Negev desert, Israel. Meets architect Robert Landsman in Jericho, Jordan, and they visit the site of ancient Petra. Reinspired, returns to University of Washington and studies interior design under Hope Foote and Warren Hill. In a weaving class with Doris Brockway, incorporates glass shards into woven tapestries.
BA degree; blows first glass bubble’'65
Receives BA in interior design from University of Washington and works as a designer for John Graham & Company, architects in Seattle. Experimenting in his basement studio, Chihuly blows his first glass bubble by melting stained glass and using a metal pipe.
Graduate School and Teaching
Earns money for graduate school as a commercial fisherman in Alaska. Enters University of Wisconsin at Madison on a full scholarship, to study glassblowing in the first glass program in the United States, taught by Harvey Littleton.
Rhode Island School of Design’'67
After receiving MS in sculpture from University of Wisconsin, visits Montreal World Exposition ’67 and is inspired by the architectural glass works of Stanislav Libenský and his wife, Jaroslava Brychtová, at the Czechoslovak pavilion. Attending Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, he begins exploration of environmental works using neon, argon, and blown glass.
MFA; Fulbright Fellowship’'68
Receives MFA from RISD. Accepts an invitation from architect Ludovico de Santillana, son-inlaw of Paolo Venini, and becomes the first American glassblower to work in the prestigious Venini factory, on the island of Murano.
Head of Glass Department’'69
Assumes the role of program head in Glass Department at RISD, where he teaches full time for the next eleven years.
Begins a collaboration’'70
Meets James Carpenter, a student in the Illustration Department at RISD, and they begin a four-year collaboration.
Pilchuck Glass School’'71
Cofounds Pilchuck Glass School on the site of a tree farm north of Seattle owned by art patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John Hauberg. The School will grow into an institution with a profound impact on artists working in glass worldwide.
Neon and Ice’'71
At RISD, he makes 20,000 Pounds of Ice and Neon, Glass Forest #1, and Glass Forest #2 with James Carpenter, installations that prefigure later environmental works by Chihuly.
Navajo Blanket Cylinders’'75
At RISD, begins Navajo Blanket Cylinder series. Kate Elliott and, later, Flora C. Mace fabricate the complex thread drawings for his artwork.
He receives the first of two National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists’ Fellowships. Becomes artist-in-residence with Seaver Leslie at Artpark, an annual arts program on the Niagara Gorge in New York State.
Visits England with Seaver Leslie. On their way to Ireland, an automobile accident in England leaves him, after weeks in the hospital and 256 stitches in his face, without sight in his left eye and with permanent damage to his right ankle and foot. After recuperating at the home of painter Peter Blake, he returns to Providence to serve as head of the Department of Sculpture and the Program in Glass at RISD.
Met Museum acquisition’'76
Henry Geldzahler, curator of contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, acquires three Navajo Blanket Cylinders for the museum’s collection—a turning point in Chihuly’s career and the start of the artist’s friendship with both the curator and the museum director then, Thomas Hoving.
In the Hotshop
Begins Basket series’'77
Breaking with 2,000 years of glassblowing history, he begins a lifelong pursuit of organic and asymmetrical forms, using fire, gravity, and centrifugal force to help shape his work. His Basket series—inspired by Northwest Coast Indian baskets he sees at Washington State History Museum in Tacoma—is first made at Pilchuck with Benjamin Moore as gaffer and exhibited at Seattle Art Museum.
Works with William Morris’'78
Meets Pilchuck student William Morris, and the two begin a close, eight-year working relationship. A solo show at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., is another career milestone.
Begins Seaform series’'80
Resigns his teaching position at RISD but returns periodically in the 1980s as artist-in-residence. Begins Seaform series. Purchases the Boathouse, in Pawtuxet Cove, Rhode Island, for his residence and studio.
Begins Macchia series’'81
Begins Macchia series, using up to 300 colors of glass. His mother dubs these wildly spotted, brightly colored forms “the uglies,” but his friend Italo Scanga eventually christens them Macchia, Italian for “spot.”
Returns to the Pacific Northwest’'83
Sells the Boathouse in Rhode Island and returns to the Pacific Northwest after sixteen years on the East Coast.
Soft Cylinder series begins’'84
Begins work on Soft Cylinder series, with Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick executing the glass drawings. Honored as RISD President’s Fellow at the Whitney Museum in New York.
Purchases building in Seattle’'85
Purchases the Buffalo Shoe Company Building just east of Lake Union in Seattle and begins restoring it for use as his studio.
Begins Persian series’'86
Begins Persian series with Martin Blank as gaffer, assisted by Robbie Miller. Establishes his first hotshop in Van de Kamp Building near Lake Union in Seattle. Dale Chihuly Objets de Verre opens at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris.
Begins Venetian series’'88
Begins Venetian series with Italian glass master Lino Tagliapietra, working from Chihuly’s drawings; Benjamin Moore also plays a very important role, including translator.
Begins Putti series’'89
With Lino Tagliapietra and fellow glass master Pino Signoretto, as well as a team of glassblowers, begins Putti series at Pilchuck. With Tagliapietra, Chihuly creates Ikebana series, inspired by travels to Japan and exposure to ikebana masters. Purchases Pocock Building located on Lake Union, realizing his dream of being on the water in Seattle.
Renovates The Boathouse’'90
Renovated and renamed The Boathouse, it serves as studio and hotshop.
Begins Niijima Float series’'91
Begins Niijima Float series with Richard Royal as gaffer, creating some of the largest pieces of glass ever blown by hand.
Exhibits first Chandelier at Seattle Art Museum’'92
Begins Chandelier series with a hanging sculpture for Dale Chihuly: Installations 1964–1992, curated by Patterson Sims at Seattle Art Museum. Designs sets for Seattle Opera’s 1993 production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.
Begins work with Polyvitro’'97
Expands work with experimental plastics he calls Polyvitro in his newly renovated Ballard Building in Seattle.
Begins Jerusalem Cylinder series’'99
Begins Jerusalem Cylinder series with gaffer James Mongrain.
Creates first Mille Fiori’'03
Begins Fiori series with gaffer Joey DeCamp and creates first Mille Fiori, for exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum.
Begins Rotolo Series’'13
Begins Rotolo series with gaffer James Mongrain. Chihuly on Paper, a three-volume set, is published by Chihuly Workshop. With Seaver Leslie, revisits the Irish Cylinders from nearly forty years ago with new Ulysses Cylinders inspired by the James Joyce novel.
Creates Chihuly Merletto’'19
Experiments with merletto, an ancient caneworking technique, integrating it into his Basket form to create a new body of work called Chihuly Merletto.
Gardens and Museums
Begins Garden Cycle’'01
Chihuly in the Park: A Garden of Glass, at Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, begins Garden Cycle, a series of exhibitions in conservatories and gardens.
Chihuly at the Conservatory’'03
A garden exhibition opens at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio. Six years later, in 2009, Chihuly will return to exhibit again at the Conservatory.
Garden exhibitions in St. Petersburg and Atlanta’"04
Orlando Museum of Art and Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, collaborate and present complementary exhibitions of his work. Installs garden exhibition at Atlanta Botanical Garden where he returns to exhibit in 2016.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’'05
Marries Leslie Jackson. Installs garden exhibition at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, outside London. Exhibits at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Florida.
New York Botanical Garden’'06
Mother, Viola, dies at age ninety-eight in Tacoma. Exhibits at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, and at New York Botanical Garden. Returns to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for exhibition there until mid-2007.
de Young Museum’'08
Presents exhibition at de Young Museum and Legion of Honor, San Francisco. Returns to his alma mater with an exhibition at RISD Museum of Art. Exhibits at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix; he will return there in 2013.
Creates temporary installations outdoors at Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Presents exhibition at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Chihuly in Nashville opens with exhibitions at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art and at Frist Center for the Arts.
Holds exhibitions at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tacoma Art Museum.
Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle’'12
Exhibits at Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Chihuly Garden and Glass opens at Seattle Center; the long-term exhibition of the artist’s work features gallery spaces, a sculpture garden, and a glasshouse designed by Chihuly. Exhibits at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
Returns to New York Botanical Garden. Exhibits at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.
Installs garden installation at Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina.
Chihuly in the Desert exhibits at two desert locations: Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.
International Exhibitions and Projects
Finland and Ireland’'95
An international project, Chihuly Over Venice, begins with a glassblowing session in Nuutajärvi, Finland, and subsequent blow at Waterford Crystal factory, Ireland. Creates Chihuly a Spoleto, an installation for 38th Spoleto Festival of the Two Worlds, in that Italian city.
Chihuly Over Venice’'96
After a blow in Monterrey, Mexico, Chihuly Over Venice culminates with the installation of fourteen Chandeliers around Venice and a glassblowing session with Pino Signoretto and Lino Tagliapietra on Murano. Chihuly purchases a building in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood for use as mock-up and studio space. Creates his first permanent outdoor installation, Icicle Creek Chandelier, for Sleeping Lady resort in Leavenworth, Washington.
Travels to Japan and France’'97
Travels to Japan to blow glass at Niijima Glass Art Center and creates several temporary outdoor Float installations. Travels with his team to a glass factory in Vianne, France, and they work with local glassblowers to create new works, some using industrial molds.
Fiori di Como’'98
Participates in Sydney Arts Festival in Australia. A son, Jackson Viola Chihuly, is born February 12 to Dale Chihuly and Leslie Jackson. Chihuly’s largest sculpture to date, Fiori di Como, is installed in Bellagio lobby in Las Vegas.
Chihuly starts an ambitious exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000, for which he creates fifteen installations within an ancient fortress, now Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem. Just outside the museum, builds a sixty-foot-long wall made of twenty-four massive blocks of ice shipped from Alaska. Travels to Victoria and Albert Museum, London, to unveil a large Chandelier within main entrance.
World attendance record’'00
Designs and exhibits Crystal Tree of Light for White House Millennium Celebration. Creates La Tour de Lumière sculpture for Contemporary American Sculpture exhibition in Monte Carlo. More than one million visitors enter Tower of David Museum to see Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000, breaking the world attendance record for a temporary exhibition during 1999–2000.
V&A in London’'01
Chihuly at the V&A opens at Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’'05
Installs garden exhibition at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, outside London.
Creates stage set for Seattle Symphony’s production of Béla Bartók’s opera, Bluebeard’s Castle; the set will be used for years in productions in several American cities as well as in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Participates in 53rd Venice Biennale with Mille Fiori Venezia installation. Creates commission with multiple installations at island resort of Sentosa, Singapore.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts holds exhibition of Chihuly art. With Seaver Leslie, revisits the Irish Cylinders from nearly forty years ago with new Ulysses Cylinders inspired by the James Joyce novel.
Shows the new Ulysses Cylinders at Dublin Castle in Ireland.
An exhibition of Chihuly’s drawings opens at Museum of Glass, Tacoma. The Toyama Glass Art Museum, in Toyama, Japan, commissions permanent installations of his work.
Exhibits at Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
Prague and Groningen’'18
Exhibits his art with that of Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová at DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague, celebrating their longtime friendship. Groninger Museum in Groningen, the Netherlands, opens Chihuly exhibition.
Returns to Kew’'19
Returns to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.
Presents exhibition at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.