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Sculpture on Loan from Zimmerli Museum Commemorates Life of Tyler Clementi

September 26, 2016
Photo of sculpture

Dale Chihuly's Rivera Blue Macchia with Chartreuse Lip Wrap, on loan from the Zimmerli Art Museum, is on display now at Alexander Library.

Those who have recently returned to campus after the summer break undoubtedly will have noticed an eye-catching addition to the lobby of Alexander Library. Measuring three feet around and nearly two feet deep, Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture entitled Rivera Blue Macchia with Chartreuse Lip Wrap is certainly a striking visual. But its significance extends far beyond its physical beauty.

On loan for the year from the Zimmerli Art Museum, the work was donated to Rutgers in 2013 by Michael Sodomick in memory of Tyler Clementi. It was purchased at an annual benefit honoring The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people.

The 2007 work is part of the Macchia series, which Chihuly began in 1981 with the goal of using each of the 300 colors available in his glassblowing shop. Macchia, or “spot” in Italian, refers to the specks of colored glass that were added to the sculptures during the glassblowing process by a team of artists. This group approach is an innovative technique that Chihuly learned during a fellowship in Venice in the late 1960s.

“Dale Chihuly is acknowledged as one of the foremost glass artists of our time,” explained Donna Gustafson, curator of American art and Mellon director for academic programs at the Zimmerli. “The sculpture commemorates the life of Tyler Clementi and the ongoing work of the Clementi Center to create and share knowledge about young people making the transition to college and coming of age in the digital era.”

The Tyler Clementi Center, a collaboration between Rutgers and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, promotes interdisciplinary research, education, and programs that focus on examining and improving the experiences of youth. Its current research projects include investigations of such topics as cyberbullying, students in transition, and bias crime prevention.