Now on show in an exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) are a series of breathtaking art glass works by multi award winning American sculptor Dale Chihuly (b.1941-), which are glistening and dazzling viewers both day and night.
Presented by the Bank of America, Chihuly the exhibition spotlights the creative energy and innovation of the world-renowned artist produced in a variety of media throughout his celebrated career.
We would all surely agree glass is one of the great inventions of human kind. During its 4500 year known journey the quality, the chemical, as well as the composition and decoration of glass, has changed dramatically and the development of the industry influenced by technical innovations, historical events, and changes in taste.
Where would we be without glass in our lives and in our homes or places of work? What about medicine, the microscope and the test tube, which are all still much in use, while without glass we might find that travel would be limited to the pace of horse or sail.
There would certainly be no wireless, electric light, television, cinemas, and cameras and perhaps we would all be peering through spectacles of horn, groping forward into a permanent Dark Age?
Within the scope of glass and its wide-ranging historical evolution there are a great many stories worth telling and well worth studying.
My own interest in glass began as a child, lured to its seemingly endless magical qualities. When I grew up this extended to include researching its early beginnings in particular Roman glass as well as late seventeenth and early eighteenth century English drinking glasses of lead, which were unique in their time.
The swinging 60’s became a great age for the glassblowing industry of the western world and it is the time when it began to enjoy a revival and expansion of its qualities and properties.
This is the age in which Dale Chihuly received his Master of Science degree in sculpture and then began his own experimentation with glassblowing.
To my mind it would be fair to say each individual caught up in the industry has an opportunity to grow his or her own unique approach to the subject.
Chihuly the exhibition as well as displaying his wondrous early works, also showcases the maestro of glasses’ drawings, allowing the viewer to follow his development and that of his process. His career has spanned many decades including the 1970’s when he had a terrible accident, in which he was severely cut by glass.
The incident forced him to step back and let others assist, and he took on more of a supervisory role a choreographer rather than a participant. His all-new perspective helped him to change his viewpoint, and he went on to became a successful entrepreneur, working with a great team of glass artists to reinvent the future of this attractive art medium
His own original education to refine his craft for Chihuly could be viewed as perhaps being slightly unconventional because it included studying art history in Florence, learning weaving to incorporate glass shards into tapestries and studying interior design
As most other artists who reach a point where they are considered to be successful by their peers, all of his experiences in life have helped to inform the work so that today it emboldens many.
Celebrating the four seasons the signature organic shapes Chihuly has created in brilliant colours enliven the water features of the Native Plant Garden and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Courtyard’s Tropical Pool. They also showcase the interplay and movement of both colour and light reflections.
At night the exhibition at NYBG will be open for special viewing, the display will seemingly be infused with a magical energy as all the artworks on show are spectacularly illuminated amid extraordinary vistas, which are gained from every perspective in both the garden itself and the stunning Edith Haupt Conservatory.
All that glitters is not only gold, but also Chihuly glass.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017
All images, courtesy artist and
New York Botanical Garden (NYBG)