September 18, 2004 – Janurary 14, 2005
Organized by Museum of Glass
Dale Chihuly’s Niijima Night Floatsare named for both the island of their origin and the much smaller Japanese fishing floats upon which the works of art are modeled. Created between the years of 1992 and 1996, the nine glass spheres comprising the installation evoke the cultural and historical authenticity of traditional Japanese glass floats, while the large scale and colorful individuality of each piece are hallmarks of internationally renowned artist, Dale Chihuly.
Although balls of plastic have replaced the blown-glass floats that were once used to buoy the nets of Japanese fishermen, Chihuly recalled "when I was growing up in Tacoma you could find Japanese fishing floats on the beach after every big storm." He sought out the last living master of blown-glass fishing floats and began his own series of floats in 1991.
The idea for the series was born on the small, rocky island of Niijima, ten hours by ferry out of Tokyo Bay in Japan, where Chihuly visited Osamu and Yumiko Noda, former students at Pilchuck, who had started a glass school perched on a cliff looking out to sea. The monumental Niijima Night Floats were created later in Chihuly's Seattle studio and are among the most technically challenging forms he has undertaken. “Even though a sphere or a ball is about the easiest form you can make in glass, when you get to this scale, up to forty inches in diameter, it becomes extremely difficult,” explained Chihuly.