You may not know the name of artist Dale Chihuly off the top of your head, but if you’ve ever wandered the grounds of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, you’ve seen his work—especially if you look up at the ceilings.
And you’ve probably been amazed.
Chihuly is a master of blown glass sculptures—an area of artwork few artists take on. Borgata displays more than $5 Million in Chihuly sculptures throughout the property with most suspended from the ceilings. Shipped to the Borgata in pieces, each Chihuly scuplture has been assembled with care.
The displays put Borgata on par with such other exhibits of Chihuly glassworks as the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Except the Borgata’s displays have been a continuous exhibit since the property opened in 2003, one of dozens of permanent Chihuly displays around the country.
In 2006, when Borgata opened its North Expansion, more Chihuly sculptures were added in a $1 million sculpture garden at the casino’s Racebook entrance. One of the largest concentrations of his works at Borgata, the sculpture garden is specially lit to allow the sculptures to appear to glow from within, though actually, there are no lights in them at all.
Chihuly was born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington and was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade. In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice.
In 1976 he was blinded in one eye in a car accident, but it never slowed his work, even after a later body-surfing accident made it difficult for him to actually blow the glass himself. Chihully, however, had learned while studying glass in Venice that glass work was best done with a team. With two studios in Washington, Chihuly now has more than 100 artists working with him and manages teams of glassblowers.
“Once I stepped back, I liked the view,” he once said, explaining that he found greater control over the finished work in a supervisory role.
All anyone has to do is look at Borgata’s Chihuly exhibition to understand what he means.
Borgata looked the world over for artworks to represent the Borgata experience. They found the perfect artist in Dale Chihuly.