the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Dale Chihuly

2018 recipient, Leadership in the Arts

The tale of Dale Chihuly and New Mexico is one of a rich and enduring legacy. It is a story of astounding creative generosity and abundant intellectual exchange. In 1974, Dale Chihuly was still a young professor at the Rhode Island School of Design when he was invited by Lloyd Kiva New to visit Santa Fe. Hired as the first Art Director of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Lloyd Kiva New wanted Chihuly to establish a glass program. New served as President of IAIA from 1968 until his retirement in 1978. He believed that glass had the potential to become the next frontier of Native artistic expression. The lives Chihuly impacted through his influence and teaching at IAIA were numerous, and today many of their names are well-known. No article about the beloved Isleta glass artist Tony Jojola is complete without mention of Dale Chihuly. After IAIA, Jojola would ultimately work with Chihuly for several years at his renowned Pilchuck Glass School. Chihuly's creative process embraces experimentation, and this is echoed in Jojola's sentiments that "when I did teach, it was that there are no limits to what can be done." In an elegant example of the circularity of life, Jojola's student from Taos Pueblo, Ira Lujan, would also eventually make his way north to Pilchuck. When Chihuly returned to IAIA in 2013 for a public lecture, IAIA student Frosley Fowler (Navajo) stated: "His installation of glass pieces in a natural setting stimulated my mind and how I look at nature." Chihuly has continued to be a generous supporter of IAIA's annual scholarship dinner and auction. Yet the relationship between Chihuly and New Mexico is not one-sided. The landscape and, more profoundly, the Native American culture in New Mexico gave life to a deep creative reciprocity. Outside of Santa Fe in 1974, Chihuly undertook the Glass Pour, where he poured molten glass into the earth to create a cast of the ground's surface as the glass hardened. Fascination with the patterning of Native blankets was the inspiration for Chihuly's Navajo Blanket Cylinders, begun in 1975 after he returned to Providence. Technically groundbreaking, these works would go on exhibit at the IAIA Museum in 1976 and then travel to museums in Utah and Wisconsin. Two of the cylinders are now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Many years later in 1998, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (as it was then known) would host Dale Chihuly: On Site. In 2011, the National Hispanic Cultural Center would mount Dale Chihuly Glass and New Mexico Glass Artists: Xavier Zamarripa, Donna Nova, and Elodie Holmes in La Tiendita. However, it is neither Santa Fe nor Albuquerque that can boast of the most surprising abundance of Chihuly's magic. Far from the capital city, in the tiny southern village of Alto, just north of Ruidoso, sits the magnificent Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts (1994-1998). To complement Antoine Predock's design, Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan commissioned Chihuly to create several glass installations. These extraordinary works constitute the Southwest's largest private collection of Chihuly's work that is open to the public. The installations are situated throughout the building, in the public spaces and the more private enclaves. They include Indian Paintbrushes and the Golden Sunset Tower in the lobby, and The Persians on the balcony. A massive chandelier is part of Ruby Sea Garden in the Founders Room. In truth, through his enormous generosity of spirit, sowing seeds of intellectual curiosity, and bestowing upon our beloved state an artistic beauty of unparalled color in sumptuous glass, Dale Chihuly's contributions to New Mexico continue to blossom. Dale Chihuly is known for revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium. Over his 50-year career, he has become known for his iconic glass sculptures, but glass is just one of the media he employs to realize his vision - he also draws, paints and sculpts using other materials. Chihuly is renowned for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, museums and gardens. Dale Chihuly's work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. Major exhibitions include Chihuly Over Venice (1995-96), Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (1999), de Young Museum in San Francisco (2008), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2011), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (2012) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada (2013.) Chihuly Garden and Glass opened at Seattle Center in 2012. The last recipient of a leadership in the arts award in New Mexico was Robert Redford in 2010.