Internationally renowned artist Dale Chihuly has been called a magician, a showman, an entrepreneur and so much more. St. Louisan Jan Greenberg, who just released a book about Chihuly, describes him in one word as an “innovator.”
Greenberg says she co-wrote World of Glass: The Art of Dale Chihuly with Sandra Jordan, a children’s book writer living in New York, to help young readers truly appreciate art and understand artists as people. Released in May, this project marks Greenberg’s 15th book co-written with Jordan and Greenberg’s 25th book overall.
The two writers were heavily influenced by their experience viewing Chihuly’s work at the Missouri Botanical Garden in 2006, Greenberg says. Jordan was visiting Greenberg in St. Louis while they collaborated on another project, and they felt drawn to the collaborative aspect of Chihuly’s work.
Chihuly’s dazzling art has lived in gardens and museums around the world. He specializes in glass blowing – the art of blowing on molten glass through a pipe to form sprawling, plant-like sculptures and other wavy, vibrant creations.
“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they’ve never experienced before,” says Chihuly, as quoted in the book.
“I think it’s important that, when we’re writing about a living artist, we do an interview and spend some time with the artist and [see] how the work is done,” Greenberg says.
Greenberg and Jordan traveled together and dove into Chihuly’s world, hence the book title. Greenberg says they spent time at the Washington state Pilchuck Glass School (founded by Chihuly) and Chihuly’s Boathouse “hot shop” in Seattle, where she first witnessed glass blowing. Their on-site conversations and observations allowed them to detail the artistic process and techniques in the book.
“It’s a process that requires teamwork, and I didn’t realize how many people it took to get all the steps done in making a piece,” Greenberg says.
The book is primarily geared toward children ages 8 and older, with 60 pages full of mesmerizing images of Chihuly’s artwork. It chronicles the artist’s upbringing and illustrates his journey to becoming a successful glass blower, including challenges he faced along the way. In the back, readers find a list of museums and gardens across the U.S. where Chihuly’s art can be seen in person.
Greenberg says that “there’s no substitute for seeing a real work of art,” so she hopes young readers respond by seeking out an exhibit, as well as feel inspired to create their own innovative works of art.
World of Glass: The Art of Dale Chihuly, jangreenbergsandrajordan.com
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