A gift of light and color

Jeff Gerber installs the colorful blown-glass fixtures of the Chihuly chandelier.

Jeff Gerber installs the colorful blown-glass fixtures of the Chihuly chandelier. Photo by Michael Lopez.

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A two-tier blown-glass chandelier created by world-renowned Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly now graces Whitman College’s Reid Campus Center.

The chandelier was delivered in 33 boxes Tuesday and assembly concluded Thursday.

“The sculpture is invaluable, as are so many Chihuly pieces,” said John Bogley, Whitman College’s vice president for development and college relations. “It’s a very significant gift to Whitman.”

Jeff Gerber and Dylan Neuwirth, who have worked several years with Chihuly, put in long hours assembling and hanging the intricate frame and glass pieces. The multicolored piece is 12 feet tall, 5 feet in diameter and weighs about 500 pounds.

It was installed adjacent to a stairwell and can be seen from “pretty much every level of the center,” said Daniel Forbes, director of Whitman’s Sheehan Gallery and a member of the college’s arts committee. Natural light during the day will interplay with the blown glass. It will be also be illuminated day and night with lights beaming at it from different angles.

It has the “energy and pop, but also a little whimsy” that was being sought, Forbes said.

The installation took more than 1½ years from conception to completion, including meetings with Chihuly’s team and the college’s arts committee to study where best to place it on campus. The energy of Reid Center’s architecture and the students who frequent it made it a match with the piece, Forbes said

The piece is the second by Chihuly gracing Whitman College. The other is a blown-glass arrangement called “Persian Suns” in the foyer of Cordiner Hall.

Bogely declined to discuss the cost of the new installation, but said funding was provided by a “longtime friend of the college who wishes to remain anonymous.”

An formal public unveiling is being planned for late September, Bogley said.

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