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By Connie Nimmo Thorn 

Step into Columbus, Indiana, and you’ll notice all the vibrant colors, awe-inspiring architecture and everywhere art. There’s one artist whose colorful forms are a favorite of ours.

Dale Chihuly is an American sculptor, known for his larger-than-life blown glass work. Throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Chihuly experimented with glass. He transformed sheets of glass into intricately painted patterns, created Native American-inspired baskets, forged ribbed glass plates with fine strands of color and more. But, perhaps the most magnificent of Chihuly’s works is his Chandelier series. The chandeliers are made by combining hundreds of glass orbs together. The orbs vary in shape and size. If you look closely at any single orb in a Chihuly chandelier, you may notice some that look like flowers, bubbles or snakes.

The Columbus Area Visitor Center is home to not one, but two amazing Chihuly glass art instillations. You can see the first one glowing in the windows of the Visitor Center. The notable, swirly-twirly design is known as Yellow Neon Chandelier. It contains 900 hand-blown elements in every sunny shade of yellow you can think of. The colossal fixture is nine feet tall, six feet wide and weighs 1,200 pounds. The chandelier is the only one lit from the inside with neon tubing.

The second installation can also be seen in the windows of the Visitor Center. The curious, colorful disks have an old-world flair to them. The hand-spun plates, called Persians, and Yellow Neon Chandelier were gifted to the Columbus Area Visitor Center by J. Irwin and Xenia Miller in 1995.

A third Chihuly lives in the Columbus Learning Center. Sun Garden in Suspended Circle was commissioned to fit in the unique space as a magnificent piece of public art. Chihuly painted and signed each of the 32 plexiglas drawings. Each drawing depicts one of Chihuly’s series.

If you’re feeling inspired by one of Chihuly’s hand-blown or hand-painted pieces, take a souvenir home with you from the Columbus Area Visitors Center gift shop. Currently, you can find colorful glass baskets from Chihuly’s Studio or an original, limited edition prints signed by Chihuly himself.

Detail from Dale Chihuly’s Chandelier and Persians

Newlyweds Vandna Handa and John Milligan

 Dale Chihuly’s Sun Garden Panels

 Dale Chihuly’s Sun Garden Panels, detail



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Columbus Area Visitors Center
506 Fifth Street, Columbus Indiana 47201
812-378-2622 | 800-468-6564