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PreK Students Use Math, Imagination, and Teamwork to Build Chihuly-Inspired Sculpture
Louise Schultze, Interim Director of Communications

Inspired by a recent visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit in Seattle, Washington, Nueva PreK Teacher Claire Wasserman-Rogers introduced her class to three-dimensional glass art by artist Dale Chihuly, an American sculptor who creates vibrantly beautiful installations and environmental artwork.

“Chihuly believes that glass is the most magical of all materials, that it transmits light in a very special way,” said Claire.

The Lower School students' colorful chandelier twinkles, reflecting light and illuminating their different patterns and spira

In examining photos of Chihuly’s glass sculptures, the PreK class made observations, noting that the some of the glass designs resembled fire, while others looked like plants, or even crystals, depending on your interpretation. It did indeed feel magical for the young students to see the light shining through the sculptures and reflecting delicate patterns on the walls. Inspired, they explored light and color through the use of transparency paper on light tables in their classroom. Their work would later become the “glass” pieces of an original Chihuly-like chandelier.

Building on their knowledge from their math study of “Patterns” with Lower School Math Specialist Stephanie Englehaupt earlier this year, students designed their own patterns on the transparencies. Using permanent and paint markers, they created colorful spirals, then carefully cut them to create a three-dimensional effect.

“Initially, our goal was to work in groups of about four children to create four separate chandeliers,” said Claire. “Instead, at the suggestion of the children, this project shifted into one collaborative piece.”

At the suggestion of the children, this project shifted into one collaborative piece."

Chihuly’s sculptures require a large team to produce and assemble his original designs, piece by piece. The 16 preK students emulated this process by working together to first make the pieces of spiraled “glass” and assemble the large sculpture. Since light is such an integral component in all of Chihuly’s work, students then wove several LED string lights throughout the chandelier to create a beautiful, luminous chandelier that now greets parents, classmates, and visitors at the entrance to the PreK classroom.

“Maybe lots of people will see it and they will be inspired,” said preK student Nicholas K. “And (the inspiration) will keep going and going – like seeds from a flower.”

Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works.


Nueva PreK students cut spirals and collaborate to create one great Chihuly-inspired sculpture.


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