Dale Chihuly polymer sculpture stands tall on UA campus


The Chihuly sculpture on The University of Akron campusAkron, Ohio, July 21, 2005— While world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly is best known for his revolutionary glass pieces and sculptures, the results of his new work with polymers will shine in Akron for generations to come.

A towering polymer sculpture designed by Chihuly was installed by a team of Chihuly Studio artisans on The University of Akron campus on July 19-20.

The 40-foot structure is located on the traffic circle in front of the university's Goodyear Polymer Center, 170 University Ave.

Similar to the towers on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, Wash., the UA sculpture is made of weather-resistant, transparent polyurethane, according to Dr. Frank Kelley, dean of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.

The sculpture is composed of 83 hollow polymer pieces (at 60 to 80 lbs each), that were placed into cylinders attached to the stainless steel armature. Landscaping and lighting will be added later, and a dedication ceremony will take place during fall semester.

This sculpture is a fabulous convergence of science and art, Kelley explains. The outdoor durability, scale and beauty of this optical-grade polymer sculpture will complement the Goodyear Polymer Center's reflective glass surfaces. The Chihuly sculpture will be the next great landmark in Akron.

Based in Seattle, 64-year-old Chihuly is noted for revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement through the use of teams. In his projects, Chihuly conceptualizes projects as a drawing, has the glass or polymer pieces created, and then his team physically assembles the sculpture on site.

Earlier this year, UA art faculty members Janice Troutman and John Morrison traveled to Chihuly Studio as part of a book project to document the process and installation of the polymer sculpture.

Dale Chihuly is the most important artist working in the glass movement today, says Mark Soppeland, distinguished professor of art at UA's Myers School of Art. He also is a tremendously important figure in the world of craft. Chihuly has helped to transform the traditional perception of glass as a craft into one that is considered to be a major art form.

The $475,000 University of Akron sculpture was supported through private donations. The polymer materials for the sculpture were donated by Bayer Corp. in Pittsburgh.

Dale Chihuly has been a warm and delightful partner in an experimental concept in the fine arts, Kelley says. When Chihuly visited our campus, he saw the possibilities in the site and appreciated the connection with the university's polymer program as a source of advanced technology for future applications of these materials.

The University of Akron is honored to be the home of the latest addition in Dale Chihuly's remarkable body of work.