I don’t know that I’ve ever found a place before that made me want to be born, live, and die within its walls. But that’s exactly what the Chihuly Garden and Glass made me feel. Nestled at the foot of the Seattle Space Needle, it’s an unassuming space from the outside. To be honest, I may not have gone if it hadn’t been for the recommendation of a friend of mine.
I’m not sure what I was expecting of this experience, but what I got was a mix of many emotions, inspiration for my own creative pursuits, and a sense awe for bold craftsmanship.
Let’s take a tour of my photos and my feelings, shall we?
I learned that these pieces were created by blowing glass from the top of a step ladder. The molten glass bubble would hit the ground, creating the strange shapes on the floor. I feel like creating this had to be a lot of fun, working with gravity. Having a vague idea of where it’s going, but also letting the glass do what it felt like doing.
I watched a video of how pieces like this are made and found out that it is constructed out of hundreds of individually blown glass pieces! That’s so incredible! I am obsessed with the way Chihuly captures nature in his art.
The place that I feel closest to the God and most myself is by the ocean. When I walked into this room, I felt the exact same way I feel when looking out at the waves: overwhelmed by glory, introspective, and peaceful. Seriously, this room exudes calmness. I feel like I am in an underwater chapel and the light is playing through the water and the stained glass windows above my head.
In this room, I learned that the pieces Chihuly created for this installation were all about pushing the boundaries of what his medium could do. He stretched the glass thinner and larger than it was supposed to go. He created with an audacity that often resulted in broken glass on the floor of his studio because he had gone too far. I love that. He created with boldness, experimenting without fear of failure because he understood that broken glass was just part of the process. And look at what he created because he wasn’t afraid of failure!
I didn’t have any life changing revelations in this room, but I do feel like this is what a Tim Burton version of The Little Mermaid would look like.
Dale Chihuly did an exhibit called CHIHULY OVER VENICE in the nineties that included fourteen glass chandeliers (like this one) that were installed all over the city of Venice, Italy. There is video footage of him throwing pieces of glass into the canals, just because he could. They floated a bunch of the glass pieces down the canals and then installed them from boats. I love the playful approach he took to something that I would consider delicate. If I had created glass chandeliers, I certainly wouldn’t throw the pieces into a canal before anyone had even seen the finished product. But they turned out beautifully and people loved them so maybe it’s a good lesson in holding my art and my life a little more loosely.
I want to live and die in this place. The moody gray sky, the brightly colored glass flowers, the reflections on the shiny floor. I was so overwhelmed when I came around the corner and saw this room and I ended up sitting on a bench for almost an hour, just to take it all in.
On the guidebook I was given at the front desk, there is a quote from Dale Chihuly that says, “I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.” I love that that was his goal. He wanted to create something that moved people, that allowed them to see things in a different way.
He did that; every installation here changed me a little bit. I think that’s what art is supposed to do. It’s not a platform to become known or to force your worldview on people. It’s a way to help people expand their experience a little bit. To see familiar things in a way they never expected to. To plant seeds for change.
If you ever are in Seattle, please go here. I promise it’ll change you.