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The 13 glass chandeliers, a magnificent array of blue, green, and gold elongated cylindrical and global forms suspended from the ceiling of the Mayo Nurses Atrium on the first floor of the newly opened Gonda Building, are the creation of American glassblower Dale Chihuly, often called the world's foremost glass master.
Emulating the grace and beauty of swans’ necks and the festivity of brilliantly colored Christmas ornaments, these sculptures reach up and out, uplifting viewers.
Chihuly said, “It is a big honor to create a piece for Mayo Clinic. Glass can be very helpful to people under stress…. Glass gives people an escape.” Chihuly said that the term chandeliers is a misnomer because the glass sculptures do not have light radiating from inside them but are lighted from outside; thus, they are both a sculpture and a chandelier. Chihuly rarely titles his art because he wants each person to look at it, think about it, and use his or her own imagination to create a title that makes personal sense.
Using colored flat glass and a metal pipe, Chihuly began his designing and glassblowing career in his basement in 1965. In 1976, his life and career were changed profoundly. In an automobile crash in England, he lost the sight in his left eye and suffered permanent damage to his right foot and ankle. That same year, 3 of his Navajo Blanket Cylinders were acquired for the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Chihuly said that the accident allowed him to develop the team approach. Before the accident, Chihuly was the maestro or the gaffer, the person who handles the glass, a position that carries a lot of responsibility and is extremely tiring. Now he supervises 2 teams and focuses on the creative process and the completed piece of art.
The total Mayo sculpture (all 13 pieces) weighs 6000 lbs, spans 45 feet, and comprises 1375 pieces of glass. It arrived in 200 boxes, each piece individually wrapped. The smallest piece is 4 feet in diameter and weighs 225 lbs, whereas the largest piece is 10 feet in diameter and weighs 1225 lbs. The chandeliers were installed over a period of 5 days by the same team that built them.
The chandeliers are a gift from Mrs Serena M. Fleischhaker.
In recognition of the important part that art has had in the Mayo Clinic environment since the original Mayo Clinic building was finished in 1914, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings will feature some of the numerous works of art displayed throughout the buildings on the Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester, Minn.