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Legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly returns to Asheville

The Persian Ceiling by Dale Chihuly.
Laura Hackett
The Persian Ceiling by Dale Chihuly.

Massive stalactite towers, neon tumbleweed and a garden of glass flowers are all part of Dale Chihuly’s latest art exhibit at Biltmore Estate.

Chihuly, a prolific and world-renowned Seattle-based glass artist, has paraded his work through galleries worldwide, from London and New York to Naples. His Asheville debut was in 2018, when he installed 16 massive sculptures throughout the Biltmore House and estate grounds, including inside the greenhouse.

The new exhibit spans four decades of Chihuly’s work and is primarily located inside the Biltmore’s Amherst at Deerpark Gallery. There are two additional large-scale pieces, the “Torchlight Chandelier” and “Winter White and Glacier Blue Tower,” on the grounds. It is the culmination of around three years of planning, according to Biltmore spokesperson Travis Tatham.

The more than 30 pieces on display include the dramatic and wildly colorful works Chihuly is known for, like the “Radiant Yellow Icicle Chandelier,” a 1,200-pound sulphuric yellow chandelier, and the “Mille Fiori,” which hosts a garden of intricately shaped flowers, reeds and other natural shapes.

Another standout piece is the “Persian Ceiling,” an empty white room that positions viewers beneath a glass ceiling. From this view, one can see hundreds of cascading, eclectic hand-blown glass shapes. In a mesmerizing tapestry, a light display filters through the colorful glass shapes and swirls on the blank walls within the room.

“From the beginning of his career, he understood the power of light. It’s what drew him to glass initially,” Britt Cornett, the Chihuly Studio Director of Exhibitions, shared at the exhibit opening. “He knew the power of how putting the right light on it really let the medium and the glass transmit.”

The local exhibit also features some of Chihuly’s lesser-known work, including pieces that use unique glassblowing methods that he pioneered, as well as paintings and drawings made of watercolor, charcoal and graphite.

“It's a great opportunity to have people discover things about Chihuly that they may not be aware of,” Cornett said.

“I think he's a little more known for presenting installation chandeliers in particular, but here we go a little bit further back into his history and then really talk about his methods and what he has been doing for the last 60 years and what he continues to do today.”

The exhibit runs now through Jan. 5, 2025. Tickets start at $125 for non-Biltmore passholders and $30 for passholders. Find more information at biltmore.com/things-to-do/events/chihuly-at-biltmore/.

Laura Hackett joined Blue Ridge Public Radio in June 2023. Originally from Florida, she moved to Asheville more than six years ago and in that time has worked as a writer, journalist, and content creator for organizations like AVLtoday, Mountain Xpress, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a degree in creative writing from Florida Southern College, and in 2023, she completed the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY's Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms program. In her free time, she loves exploring the city by bike, testing out new restaurants, and hanging out with her dog Iroh at French Broad River Park.