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Akron's Innovative Chihuly Rock Candy Sculpture

The city of Akron is known globally for its innovation. During the height of Industrial rubber production Akron was the home to headquarters for the B.F. Goodrich Company, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Akron has also shown innovation in the art world. One look at the convergence of old and new architecture at the Akron Art Museum will show that Akron's art patrons can appreciate innovation.

On the campus of the University of Akron, you'll find a sparkling blue polymer sculpture bringing innovation to public art. The sculpture is by famed glass artist Dale Chihuly. Highlighted by the reflective Goodyear Polymer Center, Chihuly's sculpture attracts the attention of many visitors. You're almost certain to see someone gazing up at the blue "rock candy," as I've heard it referred to on more than one occasion. The idea for the sculpture was a collaboration that symbolized the university's polymer pioneering history as well as a chance for Chihuly to further explore the use of polymers in his work with the help of the university's experts on the subject.

Chihuly is best known for his glass works, in both installations and individual pieces. My first experience with his work was not first hand, rather on a television show highlighting the luxurious hotels of Las Vegas. The ceiling of the Bellagio is covered with beautiful Chihuly glass in a spectrum of colors. The first Chihuly piece I saw in person was on the ceiling of the Cincinnati Art Museum lobby. Swirling drips of translucent blue glass point down at visitors in an elaborate chandelier. I love any kind of blue glass; especially the way light shines through it. So, needless to say, I've been a fan of the artist ever since and am quite proud to have our very own work of public art from the glass master.

Chihuly began to use polymers or resins in his work in 2000. He started using Polyvitro – the name coined by the artist to describe his polymers – as a way to address large scale, outdoor, public art installations. This material weighs less, allowing easier and safer installation outdoors, but can also withstand the elements better than the artist's other preferred materials glass, water, and ice could. One can find other examples of Chihuly's Polyvitro work at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, and the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio; to name a few.

I look forward to further development by Chihuly in the Polyvitro arena, and his influence on future artists and the creative materials they may be inspired to use. My hope is for further collaborations with art and science. Supporting the fact that creativity is a part of all we do and by inspiring it we will continue to make advances in all fields of study. It would be great to see more corporations supporting this process sponsoring the exploration of new art materials with funding to universities and art organizations. Plus, I can't wait for the translucent "key-lime pie" piece of art work to find it's way to Akron's Lock 3 park!

* Photo by Janet Pahlau


  1. As an older art collector since my wife passed away, I must admit to being very partial to collecting nudes in art, as original paintings or as good prints, that I have displayed all over the house. (I like to see the surprised faces of my new visitors).
    This one,, by Emile Munier, is hanging in one corner of my bedroom and was printed by, where I am a very good customer.


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