8th Grade – The Art of Dale Chihuly

8th Grade – The Art of Dale Chihuly

Description of the Unit –

This unit focuses explicitly on Dale Chihuly: his life, his art. The artmaking pursued in this unit is inspired by one of Chihuly’s most well-known themes: the bowl.

The colorful glass bowls of Dale Chihuly
Dale Chihuly’s Glass Bowls

Activity statement –

Play, experimentation and innovation are the key ingredients in Dale Chihuly’s artmaking process. His magical, fascinating glass sculptures and installations never fail to mesmerize the viewer. According to his site (https://www.chihuly.com/life), “(Chihuly) pioneered a new way of working, utilizing gravity and centrifugal force to let molten glass find its shape in its own organic way. Asymmetry and irregularity are a defining principle of his work.”

His pieces dance with space, between their physical shapes and the shape of the negative space surrounding them. His pieces are also bold statements of color, with the medium of glass lending the colors a luminous, otherworldly quality.

Dale Chihuly working on one of his glass bowls in his studio
Chihuly at work

Even though in this unit the students practice making bowls à la Chihuly, we delve deep into his installations, talking about the process of making one, and reflecting on the very public, immersive nature of art installations. We view several videos of Chihuly at work, and discuss how he employs the team approach to glass blowing to make his art, and what students think about having others work on “your” art. (Here links to a couple of the videos we have enjoyed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV2pEZPy5lI and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxgIEeIBCFo.)

Goals –

Students should…

Understand:

  • What is meant by “team approach” to glass blowing
  • Some of the processes and tools involved in glass blowing

Know:

  • Who Dale Chihuly is and some of the works he has created

Be able to:

  • Identify Chihuly’s work
  • Talk informedly about the way Chihuly works

Resources and materials –

  • Examples of Chihuly’s work
  • Videos on glass-blowing and on Chihuly’s art
  • Sheets of Duralar
  • Circle stencils
  • Any medium that colors well on Duralar (we like to use anything from colored sharpies to model toy paints)
  • Embossing, or heat, guns
  • Jars, vases or bottles to set the Duralar on while heating
  • Masking tape (to tape the Duralar to the jar while heating)

Questions –

  • What do you think about the way Chihuly first came about making glass art? How much experimentation do you think is involved in making any kind of art? How much is making art about play? Can you elaborate?
  • What do you think of the way Chihuly approached glass art?
  • What is meant by innovation in art making? Can you think of other examples of innovation in art making?
  • What do you think of the team approach to artmaking?
  • What do you think about artwork being ascribed to one artist when created by a team of people?

Evaluation –

  • Discussion participation
  • Answers to essential questions
  • Finished piece
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls in various colors and patterns
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls in various colors and patterns
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls in various colors and patterns
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls in various colors and patterns
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls, two in vivid blues
8th grade art: Dale Chihuly style bowls
8th grade art: Students combined their bowls to create a hanging installation
8th grade art: Students combined their bowls to create a hanging installation
8th grade art: Students combined their bowls to create a hanging installation
8th grade art: Students combined their bowls to create a hanging installation

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