IKEBANA BOAT, 2008 Dale Chihuly (American, born 1941) Ikebana Boat 2011 Blown glass, boat hull 5 X 17 X 7’ Artwork © 2011 by Chihuly Studio, All rights reserved. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

"Ikebana Boat" 2008, Dale Chihuly,5X17X7': photo, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

No one accuses me of having rigid ideas about what is boat art! Today for your enjoyment, Dear Reader, see installations by glass artist Dale Chihuly!

You may already be familiar with his work: he is the most famous glass artist in the USA it seems. But why him here? It all began with a project in Finland about 17 years ago. . .After several days of glassblowing, the artist playfully left some pieces floating in a river near the studio. Local kids trying to gather them into their small wooden rowboats gave him the idea.  Now there are numerous permanent installations of boats filled with glass shapes, all different, some perhaps near you, to enjoy in person!

The artist’s website can help you locate such an installation in your area by searching for “boat”.  Also look under exhibitions and dig deep to find sites.

  • Doing a report about the life and work of Vincent van Gogh in secondary school apparently caused him to take seriously the idea of becoming an artist himself.
  • As a young man, some of his money for graduate study was earned working on a commercial fishing boat. In spite of his successful path into art fame, the road has not been without serious challenges. What is more essential to an artist than his sight?
  • An auto accident left him seriously hampered in his work forty years ago, with a foot and leg injured, severe facial trauma, and the loss of all sight in his left eye! But he perseveres in spite of this to get huge popularity and critical praise.

WATCH FOR: Chihuly exhibit at Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, Texas, beginning May 5, 2012; Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, Seattle, Washington, beginning Spring 2012.

VIDEO LINKS. Mixed color glass boat Chihuly video, Chihuly blue purple glass boat video (watch the creative team glass blowing)

This Tacoma, WA native first encountered glass art at the University of Washington. After graduation, he moved to the University of Wisconsin to get extended training and experience in all elements of the medium’s challenges. Later at the Rhode Island School of Design he pursued his art study further and founded a glass instruction program, which he taught for more than ten years. In Europe he was exposed to a team approach for blowing art glass, which he immediately adopted and kept. More than 200 museum collections around the world now hold his work, which has brought him much honor and numerous awards!

DEDICATION. For my granddaughter Katelyn, art glass student at Ball State University*, and her pursuit of this arduous medium.

*Named because of the support of the local Ball family, whose fortune came from the famous Ball glass jar, once found across America and used for canning fresh produce. So it seems natural that the school would offer this unusual art major.)--CLH