On a recent family vacation, my family had the opportunity to view the Chihuly exhibit at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. I cannot recommend this exhibit strongly enough. Seriously, if you are anywhere in the Tampa/St. Pete area, you must find time to get by and see this exhibit.
Dale Chihuly is an artist who currently lives and creates in Seattle. I first encountered his work when we were living in Virginia and he had a visiting exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I was spellbound by the way he utilized both glass, color, and shape to create sculptures that are full of grace and movement.
This particular exhibit is unique in that Chihuly himself has been instrumental in determining the arrangement of the exhibition, down to the very order in which his pieces are displayed, in which rooms, and how the rooms are designed. The experience was truly breathtaking.
Most of the rooms were kept dark, the walls painted dark colors. And then, glowing with an ethereal warmth, the glass pieces were displayed. I cannot remember the last time I turned a corner in an art museum with an audible gasp at the immense beauty of the art that was just around the corner. As we entered each room, there was yet another stunning work of glass, alive with color and form to delight our eyes.
Some of Chihuly’s works were new to me. I had not seen his baskets or his bowls previously. Then there were the vases, some that even had the flowers with them too. I was fascinated by his ability to take glass and create things that looked as if they were created out of an entirely different media, as if they really were basket, bowls, flowers.
“I want my work to appear like it came from nature, so that if someone found it on a beach or in a forest, they might think it belonged there.” – Dale Chihuly
I had encountered several of his hanging sculptures previously, but they still take my breath away. They are at the same time both delicate and bold. The individual tendrils of glass seem so fragile, yet the structure itself dominates the space.
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the works that he often displays in gardens, here displayed in a large room all to its own. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. It seemed as if there was a new aspect with each vantage point. As I discussed the piece with my family, each of us found something different that captured our attention.
“I’m amazed at what people seem to find in my work, and I don’t like to limit what they see with a title. For me, titles are very difficult, and I don’t usually even think in terms of a theme when I’m creating a sculpture. Once it’s finished, I’ll come up with a title, but one person might see flowers, another something from the sea or something from a dream.” – Dale Chihuly
As incredible as these pictures are, they don’t even begin to display the incredible beauty of seeing these works in person. Sometimes, you just need to be reminded that there is beauty beyond anything you can imagine. While human beings are indeed capable of great evil, we are also able to create stunning beauty. Delight your eyes with such beauty. Go visit the Morean Art Center and spend a little time with Chihuly. You won’t regret it.
All photos posted with permission of the Morean Art Center. All works photographed are from Dale Chihuly.