Grant Garmezy grew up on a working farm outside of Nashville, Tennessee. As long as he can remember, he's been fascinated with the arts and working with his hands to create things. His artistic career began when he was very young, taking drawing classes with a local illustrator. He became serious while in his teens, and spent multiple summers at intensive arts programs for high school students. His passion to pursue a career in the arts led Grant to Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond. He originally intended to focus on jewelry and small-scale metals, but once he wandered into the glass studio, he discovered a love for the molten material.
Grant has never been attracted to making functional glass items; instead he has always been drawn to its sculptural qualities. Unlike other materials, glass cannot be sculpted with your hands - artists must use special tools, timing, and gravity to manipulation the two thousand degree material, which is constantly moving while hot.
Grant is drawn to depicting animal imagery and natural forms when sculpting. When he first started, he found passion in the challenge to capture the physical features of animals, but he now strives to capture expression and movement in the work in order to elevate the work from a sculpture to a story.
A glass studio is an amazing space - a place where a team of people come together to create one a kind pieces at 2,300 degrees. In all glass studios, or "hotshops" you will find the same three basic pieces of equipment that allow glass to be melted and worked: a furnace for melting the glass, a reheating chamber to keep the piece at a moveable temperature, and an annealer for allowing the piece to cool very slowly to room temperature.
What Grant does in the hotshop is called hot sculpting, or "off-hand" sculpting. This means that he sculpts the glass free hand while it is heated to about 2,000 degrees. He uses an extremely hot torch and a variety of hand tools to manipulate the glass. He does not use molds. For that reason, each and every piece is truly unique. Grant works with at least one assistant, but most of the work requires the help of an entire team of skilled artists. For an in-depth look into the process, visit the videos page.
In the art of glassblowing you are only as good as your team. Grant works with truly gifted artists and friends to create the work. Each member of the team contributes to each piece and the work could not be created without them. Learn more about each artist:
After seeing glassblowing at the Oldway Art Center in Sperryville, Virginia, Erin became enamored with glass as an artistic medium. At 17, she bargained with Oldway owner Eric Kvarnes, trading shop work for studio lessons, and she spent every moment she could in the studio. During high school, she worked as an assistant for Parker Stafford, who helped her create a portfolio for admission to VCUarts. Erin studied glassblowing at VCUarts, earning a BFA in 2007. She has been a member of the Grant Garmezy Glass team since 2006, assisting in the hot shop, co-teaching glass sculpting classes, and working behind the scenes. Grant and Erin were married in 2014, and now create collaborative work.
Abby was born in Culpeper, Virginia in 2011. From an early age it was noticed she had a keen sense for the arts. To fuel her passion, she was trained in the glassblowing craft and has yet to miss a studio day. Today Abby has assumed the role of safety officer at the glass studio, making sure all equipment and personnel are in good working order. On her days off she enjoys being perfect, chasing squirrels and irritating the family cat.
Michael Martin is a visual artist living and working in Richmond, Virginia. Michael has lived in the Richmond area for the majority of his life, both in and out of the city. He earned his degree in Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts. He started working with glass in the fall of 2012 and is also an experienced metal worker.
John Forsythe is from Richmond, Virginia. He began his explorations with glass at Centre College in Kentucky during 2000 followed by working at P&B Glassworks in Williamsburg. He was able to continue his pursuit of glass by attending classes at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts. While there John met Grant Garmezy and they have been working together ever since.
Adam Childress began working with glass while living in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2004. His interest in the process of making glass led him to travel to various studios around the east coast, where he had the opportunity to work with and learn from several glass artists. In 2007 he moved to Richmond, Virginia to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, where he studied under Emilio Santini. While at VCU he was introduced to furnace based glassblowing, became fascinated with the scope and scale of the hot shop and became fixated on learning more about glass. He continued to flamework while taking classes and workshops based in furnace glass. This process introduced Adam to the Richmond community of glass workers, and he began assisting artists on a regular basis. Adam is currently living and working in Richmond where he is developing his work and exploring new concepts, while refining his understanding of the material and the process of making objects with glass.
Sean Donlon started studying Marine Biology in 2006, and then was a painter and printmaker at the Workhouse Art Center in Lorton Virginia. There he met a flameworking artist whom he apprenticed under for two years. From the first day handling glass, making a clear marble he was hooked and wanted to learn more. Sean has traveled to Lauscha Germany to study glass eye prosthetics, and was selected as the recipient of the VMFA Visual Arts Fellowship for 2012. After graduating in December of 2012 from VCU, he opened Mule Barn Craft Studios, a collaborative art space, with a conceptual craft focus.