Artist Chihuly stretches boundaries of glass blowing

Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:34am EDT
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By Verna Gates

St. Petersburg, Florida (Reuters) - Artist Dale Chihuly has stretched the craft of glass blowing to breaking point and started an artistic revolution that has extended into sculpture and environmental art.

Instead of a small shop with a single artist creating private objects, Chihuly hired teams of craftsmen working together on complex, large-scale pieces made for public viewing. Tradition, symmetry and conformity also buckled in the heat of the ovens.

"I pushed the edge of thinness and collapsibility to make new forms," he explained in an interview.

Chihuly, whose work is exhibited in more than 200 museums around the globe, recently joined an elite group -- single artists with a permanent collection dedicated to their work.

The Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida dedicated 7,600 square feet to display thousands of pieces of glass, many of them made especially for the collection. Architect Albert Alfonso designed the space, and is credited with keeping the project alive, despite the recession, thanks to his friendship with Chihuly.

"Albert transformed the space into a work of art. It complements my work," said Chihuly.


The exhibition space includes natural materials such as wood, metal, stone and glass. Venetian plaster gives a nod to Chihuly's fondness of Italy and the Venetian glass blowers who inspired him as a student.   Continued...