Artist Dale Chihuly donates glass installation to Whitman College

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The large windows above Cordiner Hall's main entrance on the Whitman College campus backlight the new "Sunfire Persian" installation gifted by artist Dale Chihuly.

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Whitman president George Bridges talks with guests at the installation ceremony.

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Guests at the installation listen to remarks given in Cordiner Hall's foyer, while the fiery glass overhead plays with the light.

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Whitman College's large vertical windows above Cordiner Hall's main entrance showcase the new "Sunfire Persian" installation by Dale Chihuly. It includes 17 pieces of glass in varying sizes.

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There is a shimmering new addition to Whitman College's Cordiner Hall, in the form of world-class Dale Chihuly glass artwork that the artist recently donated to Whitman.

This glass installation is the first half of a two-part joint-donation from Chihuly and Mark A. Anderson of the Walla Walla Foundry. Chihuly donated the glass installation to Whitman, and Anderson will donate a 16-foot-tall bronze recreation of one of Chihuly's "Ikebana" glass sculptures inspired by the Japanese art of flower arranging. The bronze sculpture will be of a vase with two flowers.

"We came up with a donation that was jointly with Walla Walla Foundry and Chihuly Studios. Dale graciously gave us the glass that's here, as well as the right to take one of his glass 'Ikebana' series and enlarge it to 16 feet and cast it in bronze. The Walla Walla Foundry will gift that to the college," Anderson said.

The glass installation is in the front window of Cordiner Hall, and it is visible both from the interior and exterior of the Hall. The glass installation is well lit and easily seen in the evening.

George Bridges, president of Whitman College, said Cordiner Hall is an excellent location for the installation, as many Walla Walla community members use the hall.

"We view Cordiner Hall very much as not only part of the Whitman campus, but a venue for all of Walla Walla to take advantage of. In that sense, the art and the installation will introduce our community to this marvelous art form," Bridges said.

Anderson, a 1978 graduate of Whitman and a current member of the Whitman art committee, appreciates that the glass adds a new medium to Whitman's art collection.

"I personally appreciate the fact that it is a different medium. We have other forms of sculpture, cast and fabricated, painted, and printed. Now we have glass as well. As a learning tool for art majors or just for the population of the school or the town, to be able to walk down the street and take in a world-class piece of glass is a rewarding thing," Anderson said.

Bridges likes that this installation will serve as an addition to the art available in Walla Walla.

"I think it's another indication of investment in Walla Walla as a place of the arts, as a community that appreciates varying art forms, and this just adds to that," he said.

Bridges highlighted that this is one of only a few glass installations in Eastern Washington.

"We are very honored to have this piece on campus, on exhibit for Whitman but also on exhibit for all of Walla Walla. We are very grateful for Dale Chihuly's and Mark Anderson's generosity," Bridges said.

Bridges also has a unique connection to this specific glass installation. The artist who blew this piece of Chihuly glass, Daryl Smith, took care of Bridges' children when they were younger, before he became a glass artist.

For the second half of the two-part donation, Anderson has been working with Chihuly to create the piece. The bronze sculpture will be installed this spring.

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