Ambassador Heyman’s Remarks at the Media Preview for Dale Chihuly
Royal Ontario Museum of Art
As prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Josh (Basseches, ROM Director & CEO). I am always so happy to visit the Royal Ontario Museum of Art. But today is a particularly joyous occasion because we are here to celebrate the opening of the Dale Chihuly exhibition. I want to thank the ROM for its great collaboration on this project. Last November, at the ROM, we hosted a small dinner with Dale and a group of friends and art-lovers — it was wonderful to hear his remarkable story and get a peek into his vision for this space. It is such a pleasure to see that vision realized and to have Dale back in the great city of Toronto.
As Americans and Canadians, we’re so lucky — we share and cherish deep, rich cultures. Culture is vital to the fabric of both of our countries — which is why I have made cultural diplomacy one of my four policy priorities as the U.S. Ambassador to Canada. Our financial support of the Dale Chihuly exhibition is an example of the many cultural activities that the U.S. Mission to Canada has sponsored over this past year.
This year alone, Mission Canada, through our Toronto Consulate, has supported art that fosters understanding on important social issues, partnering with such terrific organizations as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Hot Docs Documentary Festival, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Gardiner Museum, the Power Plant, the Textile Museum, and the McMichael Gallery.
In Ottawa, Vicki — my partner in life and in work — and our colleagues at the Embassy have worked closely with the exceptional National Gallery of Canada to create and drive the Contemporary Conversations series. Contemporary Conversations has had an extraordinary impact, allowing American artists to tell their stories — not just about the American experience — but about topics whose importance transcends borders. Looking at our Contemporary Conversations to date, you will see they have been about social justice, the environment, LGBT rights, race, and identity. Our cultural outreach shares a common thread, exploring political and social themes and issues of concern to both our countries.
The U.S. Mission in Canada is supporting this exhibition because Dale Chihuly is an American master artist. He is credited with launching and revolutionizing the studio glass movement. He elevated the perception of the glass medium from a simple craft to the realm of fine art. He has also defied the fragility of and created unique site-specific installations for each space. Dale’s goal is notable and different for an artist — to have people “overwhelmed with light and color in a way they’ve never experienced before.”
Dale Chihuly also pays it forward — he has mentored and taught countless artists in his studio, training the next generation — as have many legendary master artists before him. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.
Our support for this exhibition will engage the next generation by exposing children to glass blowing and teaching them about art installation. At the Family Fundays event that we are sponsoring on September 17th and 18th, the Hot Glass Roadshow will feature the Artech Mobile Glass Studio, which will give all-day onsite demonstrations and presentations on glass blowing. The presentation, Defying Gravity-Chihuly Studio in Conversation, will provide a behind the scenes look at what it takes to create, move, and install delicate works of glass around the world.
So we are delighted to be part of the Dale Chihuly exhibition, supporting such an American iconic artist and innovator. And with that, I would like to welcome Dale Chihuly to the podium to say a few words.