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Dale Chihuly Visits IAIA Offering Kudos and Encouragement

Jan 9, 2023

Dale Chihuly and his wife, President and CEO of Chihuly, Inc. Leslie Chihuly, joined IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation), Trustee JoAnn Balzer and her husband Bob, glass instructor Patrick Morrissey, and students and staff at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) for a discussion and luncheon on Monday, November 29. Dale Chihuly, originally from Tacoma, WA, first came to IAIA in 1974 as a visiting teacher from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). During his initial visit, he built the then-high school’s first glass furnace on its original campus at the Santa Fe Indian School. He was instrumental in setting up IAIA’s first glass program, and he taught glass blowing at the college for several years.

Dr. Martin wrapped Dale Chihuly in an IAIA blanket, recognizing him as an important member of the IAIA community. Leslie Chihuly gave an emotional speech about all that IAIA has accomplished in its 60-year existence. Over the last few years, IAIA has reinvigorated its glass-blowing program and updated its facilities, including adding new glass kilns and an outdoor glass-blowing facility that will receive a roof addition this winter.

Dale Chihuly, whose work has been deeply influenced by Indigenous American art, listened to students as they introduced themselves and answered several questions about glass art, the glass-making industry, and his career. Graduating senior Jerome Nakagawa (Japanese and Diné) thanked Leslie Chihuly for her writing on the Chihuly organization and the business of art.

When asked to advise the many aspiring and emerging artists in the room, Dale Chihuly said, “It sounds corny, but just follow your dream. If it’s necessary to have a part-time job to make what you want to make, do that. Don’t give up. Think of the great artists like van Gogh. He only sold one painting in his lifetime, but he never stopped working. And hopefully, you’ll draw a lot, as well as make glass.”

We thank the Chihulys for their visit to IAIA and all their support from the 1970s through today as IAIA continues Making History.

Are you interested in learning to sculpt with glass? IAIA is offering Special Topics: Glass Material Process this spring semester. This course is taught by glass artist Patrick Morrissey who has more than 40 years of experience in the field. To learn more about IAIA’s course offerings, view our 2022-2023 college catalog online. To register for Glass Material Process, visit our course schedule webpage. If you are interested in applying to IAIA, visit our Admissions page to find or request further information.