Chihuly in the library

If you Google “Chihuly in the library,” you’ll see that there are a variety of Chihuly art installations in libraries. I’ve come across Chihuly pieces here and there, like this one below at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.

With Book Cougars co-host Emily at Mohegan Sun

About ten years ago I was fortunate to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition in Seattle when it first opened. I was blown away by the variety and diversity of his work. Since his work has gained popularity and huge public art installations have became more desirable, Chihuly’s pieces are now created by a team of assistants trained in his techniques.

Chihuly in the library

Coming upon this huge Chihuly in Mount Holyoke College’s Williston Memorial Library was a big surprise. When you walk through the door, this stunning work of wiggling glass stops you in your tracks.

Clear and Gold Tower by Chihuly at Williston Library

It looks alive, doesn’t it? There’s a cafe over to the right, hence the cafe tables.

A big part of what makes this modern art so striking is contrast — you walk through this Gothic revival entrance and through a short foyer before stepping into the Neo-Renaissance courtyard at whose center is this water fountain full of rising, squiggling energy.

Close up of Clear and Gold Tower by Chihuly at Williston Library

Close up. I see eels and elegant swan necks and seaweed kelp with bulbs. What do you see?

Looking up at the top of Clear and Gold Tower by Chihuly at Williston Library

Looking up. It seems like the glass is growing toward the light.

Looking down at Clear and Gold Tower by Chihuly at Williston Library

Looking down into the courtyard. The base from which this piece springs is an original Italian wellhead from 1540. Read more about it on the placard below (a transcription follows the photo).

Information about Clear and Gold Tower by Chihuly at Williston Library

Transcription of the placard:

Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941)
Clear and Gold Tower
Glass and gold leaf with metal armature, 2013
Gift of the Centennial Class of 1937

Clear and Gold Tower was commissioned from prominent American glass artist Dale Chihuly by the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum with funding from the Centennial Class of 1937. It was inspired by an earlier piece–the Palazzo Ducale Tower–which the artist made during his 1995-1996 Chihuly Over Venice Project. More than 450 pieces of hand-blown glass shimmering with gold leaf comprise this remarkable work of art.

Chihuly and his team created the Clear and Gold Tower for Mount Holyoke in response to the library’s neo-Renaissance courtyard designed in 1992 by Boston architect Graham Gund. The tower is mounted within an Italian wellhead–a gift from the architect–that dates to 1540. According to inscriptions on its exterior, the marble well once served as the water source for the Venetian abbey of San Cipriano on the island of Murano, a famed center for glassblowing from the 13th century to the present day.

I tend to prefer colored glass, but the clear and gold is absolutely perfect for this location.

Have you come across a Chihuly in a place you didn’t expect?

Read more about the Williston Memorial Library here.
Read more about Chihuly on his website.


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