Sunday, October 12, 2014

Do You Need Permission? Chihuly in Fiber

We are currently in Colorado for a fall vacation. (By the way, this is a great time of year for a vacation!) Yesterday, we spent the morning at the botanical gardens in Denver. Dale Chihuly currently has an exhibition of the Garden Cycle, a series of garden exhibitions that began in 2001. The exhibit lasts through November 30, 2014, if you have a chance to visit.

I am ALWAYS inspired by Chihuly's work--the colors and the shapes. I particularly love his work against garden and water backdrops. My favorite is this boat.

I love the reflection of the glass orbs in the water.
Now, here is my question--where does being inspired by a piece and copying a piece (albeit in a totally different medium) begin? Case in point--"Chihuly's Gondola" by Melissa Sobotka. The picture below is of a piece of fiber art.
According to the Houston Chronical, Melissa Sobotka won the Handi Quilter Best of Show award at Houston in 2013- a $10,000 prize - for a quilt she named "Chihuly's Gondola." She "calls her quilt "art reflecting art" because it depicts a Dale Chihuly work she saw at the Dallas Arboretum in 2012. "It's my reflections on his artwork - my interpretations of his art," she said. In her quilt, which measures 79 by 41 inches, a small boat nearly overflows with brightly colored blown-glass balls that gleam in the light like oversized marbles. Chihuly, a masterful glass sculptor, has created several of these "Float Boat" pieces, filling small wooden boats with blown glass."

On her website, she does say the work was inspired by Chihuly, but she does not say she has his permission to recreate his work in her chosen medium. If permission hasn't been given by the original artist, is "saying" the work was "inspired by" that artist enough? Opinions? I'm curious.




Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think that is plenty. She isn't trying to copy his work. She is just doing a reflection of his work. I have seen so many glass artists trying to do his work. That doesn't seem quite right to me. They don't attribute this to him. Just look at art over the years. Tiffany was copied every which way but you could always tell how his work was different, usually better.

zippyquilts said...

I think her attribution, including the name of the piece, is enough acknowledgement. What I have a problem with is the way most quilt show judges value the minutiae of technique over originality. She has made skilled use of her medium, but I would never award a prize to art that is so clearly derivative.

M.S. said...

I can understand why you might be questioning copyright issues so I thought you might like to know that I did have permission from Mr. Chihuly’s corporate attorney for this piece. I was given the exact verbiage as to how I was to list the inspiration. It was not my intent to copy his art verbatim but rather to challenge myself to create the illusion of glass, the shadows and reflections, as I perceived it, with fabric.
I also received a congratulatory gift from Mr. Chihuly in honor of my win in Houston. His generous spirit inspired me. What a lovely thing to support other's artist endeavors.
Wishing you the best on your creative journey!
Melissa Sobotka

Quilter Beth said...

Thank you, Melissa, for clearing things up. There has been SO much discussion about copyright that I'm ALWAYS curious about "inspired by" pieces. How nice that Mr. Chihuly acknowledged your work with a gift--lucky you! Your work is stunning. Congratulations on your well-deserved award(s).