Thursday, January 24, 2013
WALLA WALLA — Throughout his artistic career, Dale Chihuly has set the standard and broken the boundaries of glass as art.
The Seattle-based artist is celebrated in his home state and throughout the world for his bold, detailed works, ranging from large-scale installations to delicate museum pieces.
Chihuly and his brand are the inspiration for the latest art exploration of the Carnegie Picture Lab, the nonprofit community group that brings art instruction to local elementary-grade children each year.
Its mission is to nourish creativity by supporting and enhancing art education for elementary school children in the Walla Walla Valley.
Carnegie Picture Lab has partnered with Chihuly Studio and Chihuly Garden & Glass to bring a series of events to participating schools.
The 2013 Art Family Fun Nights will explore color and glass this spring.
The Chihuly series kicks off with a community event at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Walla Walla Public Library.
The library event marks the kickoff with the Chihuly partnership and will feature an afternoon of art geared for 4- to 12 year-old children and their family members.
Chihuly books will be displayed, and projects include the handling of colorful glass figures donated by the studio, puzzle building, and creating with color.
Augusta Farnum, chairwoman of curriculum and vice president of the nonprofit, helped bring the partnership forward after coming across a magazine story on the artist while on a train.
“After reading the story about Chihuly on the train, I began thinking about our town’s efforts around community building,” Farnum said. “The art project idea celebrates our intricate diversity. What does the Walla Walla community look like in color?”
That exploration of color — something embraced by Chihuly in his own work and in his educational outreach — will be one focus of the library event and upcoming school events.
Children will explore the use of color by making and naming their own hue. The color project will grow through the spring, with children encouraged to contribute to a mural that will remain at the library.
“I teach kids they can use any color, any size paper, work any way they want to. There are no boundaries, there are no rules,” Chihuly is quoted in a release.
Farnum said the partnership with Chihuly Studio was forged thanks to a connection through the Walla Walla Foundry. It is also a stated mission of Chihuly Studio to support art education and outreach.
“Chihuly Studio believes arts education should be available for every student and supports communities in ongoing efforts to teach children the importance of the arts,” the studio said in a statement.
In a gesture to support that mission, Chihuly Studio donated and delivered individual books for each child that participates in the Picture Lab program — close to 4,000, Farnum said.
That donation is in addition to art books donated to school libraries and the Walla Walla Public Library, as well as materials that include pieces of colored glass for handling and exploring.
Chihuly first explored glass as art while a student at University of Washington in the 1960s. He graduated in 1965, and enrolled in the first glass program in the country at the University of Wisconsin, according to biographical information available online. Chihuly was a cofounder of the state’s Pilchuck Glass School in 1971.
“He basically was part of changing the face of glass as an art, being an accepted art medium in the United States,” Farnum said.
Chihuly continues to create and exhibit his art, and has included educational arts outreach in schools.
Saturday’s library exploration kicks off what will be 10 events hosted at each of the Carnegie Picture Lab schools: Rogers Adventist School, Meadowbrook Intermediate and Davis Elementary in College Place; and Assumption Catholic School, Prospect Point, Berney, Sharpstein, Green Park, Blue Ridge, and Edison elementary schools in Walla Walla.
“I’m honored to be included in the Carnegie Picture Lab Family Fun Nights community events,” said Chihuly in the statement. “I believe its mission to bring art to every child in every classroom in Walla Walla is an admirable one.”