Richard Jolley, internationally recognized as one of today's most accomplished and inventive glass sculptors, was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1952. As a youth, he moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and in 1970 began his art training at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee, studying under noted glass artist Michael Taylor. After receiving his BFA from George Peabody College in Nashville (now part of Vanderbilt University), Jolley continued graduate studies at North Carolina's Penland School of Crafts, under the instruction of studio glass artist Richard Ritter. Jolley has participated in over 65 solo museum and gallery exhibitions throughout the United States and in Australia, Europe, Israel, and Japan.
Jolley's sculpture takes the form of drawings, busts, totems, suspended figures, birds, the garden -- all exploring issues of the human condition, nature, and the universe through the use of glass, color, and contemporary symbolism. Jolley’s work is alluring, in part because it allows the viewer to escape from the everyday into a dream. His message: Art is not limited by its medium but is open to a continuous exploration of new possibilities for what can be meaningful to the human eye.
On May 4, 2014, the Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, Tennessee, debuted Jolley’s new, monumentally scaled sculpture commissioned and created especially for the museum's newly refurbished Great Hall, recently renamed the Ann and Steve Bailey Hall. Cycle of Life measures 100 feet long by 12 feet tall, making it one of the largest figurative glass-and-steel assemblages in the world. Fashioned of thousands of individual cast and blown-glass elements, the massive work unfolds as an epic narrative of the successive phases of life.