“Thirty-four years ago I put a pipe into some stained glass that I melted in my basement, and I blew a bubble,” says Seattle-based glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. That moment proved to be a catalyst for Chihuly’s career as North America’s pre-eminent glass artist, one he has spent crafting mystifying sculptures in unlikely forms.
This June, the Royal Ontario Museum puts on Chihuly, an exhibit of 11 installations including previously unseen incarnations of Icicles, Jerusalem Cylinders, and the kaleidoscopic, overhead Persian Carpet. “There is something about putting the pieces overhead, on top of plate glass, that makes you think of the sea,” says Chihuly of the latter installation’s refractive quality. To stand beneath its dappled rainbow is to see the world in a new light.