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IAIA Names Aiden Deleary as Inaugural Recipient of Chihuly Scholarship

Jan 31, 2024

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is pleased to name Aiden Deleary (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation) as the first recipient of the Chihuly Scholarship, which was announced in Spring 2023 to fund an incoming Indigenous student from the United States or Canada within any full-time undergraduate major at IAIA demonstrating exceptional talent and innovation.

Deleary is a proud member of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in Ontario, Canada, with Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Lenape heritage. Deleary graduated in 2023 from Norman North High School in Norman, Oklahoma, and began his first term at IAIA in the Fall of 2023. He is majoring in Studio Arts, with a focus on painting, and will soon double major with Cinematic Arts. The generous four-year, full-ride Chihuly Scholarship will cover Deleary’s tuition, room and board, program expenses, and experiential learning opportunities.

More than 90% of IAIA’s students rely on scholarships to realize their college dreams—the Chihuly Scholarship helps to further address this financial need. Eight incoming students were identified as potential candidates for the Chihuly Scholarship by undergraduate Department Chairs and the scholarship selection committee. Of these, five students fully met the Chihuly Scholarship requirements, and after Fall 2023 midterms, four potential candidates remained and received scholarship applications. On December 13, 2023, Deleary was chosen by the committee due to his demonstrated commitment to his education and his application essay.

Deleary draws inspiration from his community for his creative pursuits in painting, photography, and music. A fancy dancer and powwow singer, he is deeply rooted in cultural practices, particularly on the powwow trail. In Deleary’s essay for the scholarship application, he asserts that his art “is often inspired by a sense of home, not merely as a physical place, but as a place of timeless existence of people, community, and culture.” He “is driven by the belief that art can make a lasting impact, helping communities and individuals alike.”

The enduring impact of art can be directly seen in Deleary’s family and their connection to IAIA. Deleary is the son of Dr. Mary Deleary (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation) ’10, who obtained her BA in Museum Studies at IAIA, worked as the Balzer Contemporary Edge Gallery Coordinator from 2010–2017, and taught the MUSM190 Art & Exhibit Preparation class as part of her role as Gallery Coordinator. She continues to be involved at IAIA, teaching undergraduate Art History and Museum Studies classes. Aiden Deleary acknowledges “the sacrifices of his mother, who provided him a space to be himself,” as one of his influences. His grandmother (and Mary’s mother) Nancy Deleary (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation) ’11 graduated with a BFA in Studio Arts as the Valedictorian and taught as an Adjunct Faculty member in Studio Arts.

IAIA is pleased that the Chihuly Scholarship will assist Deleary in carrying his family, community, and cultural connections forward at IAIA and beyond. IAIA president Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation) states, “We are grateful for the sixty-year relationship that IAIA has had with the world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly, who established the first glass furnace on our campus in 1974 and continues to provide support and learning opportunities for Indigenous artists. The scholarship will continue Mr. Chihuly’s legacy of creating the next generation of talented artists.”

Dale and Leslie Chihuly, © 2018 Chihuly Studio, all rights reserved, photograph Scott Mitchell Leen.

Dale and Leslie Chihuly, © 2018 Chihuly Studio, all rights reserved, photograph Scott Mitchell Leen.

About The Chihuly Scholarship

The Chihuly Scholarship is underwritten by the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation in memory of IAIA alum and glass artist Tony Jojola. The four-year full-ride scholarship will cover tuition, room and board, programmatic expenses, and experiential learning opportunities for an incoming Indigenous student within any full-time undergraduate major at IAIA who demonstrates exceptional talent and innovation.

About The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation

The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation was established in 2009 with a mission to inspire and educate the public regarding all forms of art and to provide support to artists and arts organizations. Since 2010, the Foundation has made multi-year funding commitments to programs and organizations that support artists, enable youth arts education, and enhance quality of life for fragile populations including the elderly, veterans, and people with disabilities through art-making experiences.