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 Harvey Littleton’s seminal glass program at the University of Wisconsin. Chihuly continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program.
In 1968, Chihuly was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work at the Venini factory in Venice, Italy. While in Venice, Chihuly observed the Italians’ team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to his studio today. In 1971, Chihuly co-founded Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. With this international glass center, Chihuly led the avant-garde in the development of glass blowing as a studio art and the broader contemporary interest in glass as an expressive medium. Today, his work is included in over 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards including honorary doctorates from the University of Puget Sound, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the California College of Arts. Chihuly has also been honored with The American Council for the Arts Visual Artists Award, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Chihuly has created many well-known series of works (notably the Baskets, Persians, and Seaforms), but he is most celebrated for his dramatic, large-scale architectural installations. In 1995, he embarked on the multi-faceted international project, “Chihuly over Venice,” which involved collaborative glass blowing at factories in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico. The resultant sculptures were mounted over the canals and piazze of Venice as part of Venice's first glass biennial.
In 1999, Chihuly mounted his most ambitious installation to date, “Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem;” more than one million visitors went to the Tower of David Museum to view these works. In 2001, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London curated the acclaimed exhibition “Chihuly at the V&A,” and in 2002, the 500-foot long Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, was dedicated. Around this time, Chihuly’s life-long affinity for glasshouses grew into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. His first garden exhibition was presented in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, and most recently, in 2005, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the U.K..