By Drew@ Releaf Media 24 March 2019
Famed glass artist Jeremy Grant-Levine has put himself and Philly on the map with his unique functional art. His work and his collaborations have been global in scale, with shows and shops featuring his work from Seattle to Tel-Aviv. Better known by his alias, Germ has taken a different direction with his latest project, raising over $92,000 to fund the vision of 1000 Glass Cranes. The climax of the project will take place March 30, at 1345 N Front St., in Germ’s hometown of Philadelphia, PA. The installation will feature The Glass Cranes that Germ has produced in his Philly studio over the course of the past year. Germ has shared that “The goal of [this] project is to be able to spend a full year on one large idea, working full time without assistance, exploring the repetition of an object and planning the final installation. Slow art feeding into a larger vision.”
Each of the 1000 Glass Cranes is meticulously crafted by hand, with each component and step being planned and organized in advance. When fully installed the exhibit of 1000 Glass Cranes will require over a mile of wire to hang. I had a chance to catch up with Jeremy recently and asked him a few questions about the installation.
What are biggest challenges you faced that you did not anticipate?
Overall this project was a huge learning experience for me. I’ve always made my living making and selling pipes, so working on a large scale project like this is way outside my wheel house. I grossly underestimated the amount of time and money it would take to succeed at this. I was very lucky to be able to raise a large amount of starting money thru kickstarter, but I was pretty shocked at the amount that kickstarter and the IRS skimmed off the top. After the costs of the materials, and the studio costs I was left with very little to live off of. Striking a balance between the project and general day to day survival was very difficult.
I started out very strong. I had a strict schedule I stuck with and I made my daily goals. This pace kept up for months, but eventually it took a toll on me. It’s very hard as a creative person to stay focused on a single task for so long. The brain wanders and the need to explore other avenues of expression is overwhelming. After 8 months I got pretty depressed. Once I ran out of money I got even more depressed. I hit a wall around the one year mark. I was having a lot of difficulty finding a venue to host the project. I missed my initial goal of completing everything within a calendar year and I spiraled pretty badly. I hit a point where I was having a lot of difficulty selling my glass pipes. After funding this project so publicly and failing to meet my goals so publicly I think people lost confidence in my brand. Day after day I kept putting off finishing the project and trying to scrape by. It was not healthy. I was in a really bad place. As the two year mark approached I knew I was going to have to make a push to get this project finished. Luckily there were a few people who had stuck by me and they opened my eyes to the possibility of creating my own venue using the space I already had. My office in my studio is pretty big, but it had been neglected as storage space for the cranes for the past two years. After clearing it out and freshening up the paint and the lighting I had a real gallery space to work with. Once I put my energy back into the project full force everything seemed to fit back in place. My friend Cat had helped me with the initial Kickstarter and planning stepped back in to organize the charge. We have a few meetings a week and it has really been helping me complete tasks on time.
What do you want your audience to remember from this exhibit?
I want people to walk into the room and have their senses overwhelmed by shape, color and sound. The installation will be fully immersive. I don’t think anything like this has been done with boroscilicate glass at this point.
What do you want your students to learn from this project?
I hope they see that anything is possible. I have no formal art education but I had a big idea and I was able to make it happen without traditional art grants, trust funds, or gallery backing. Breaking out of the usual scale that boroscilicate glass is usually limited to and filling an entire room will hopefully inspire other glass artists to go even bigger in size and concept.
Are there any Cranes left for collectors?
Yes, there will be cranes available to reserve at the show and thru the website. www.1000glasscranes.com.
How will this project influence your future work? Will you focus on functional art or installation pieces?
My first love in glass will always be functional pieces. I am a glassblower because I wanted to make glass pipes. I am still a glassblower 15 years later because I make glass pipes. I am not sure where my future will go, but I’m hoping that I can pursue large scale concepts and installations again. This is the first thing like this I’ve ever done. I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning of it, and I only have a slight grasp of what I’m doing now. I hope to apply everything I’ve learned on this installation to other projects in the near future. But in the meantime I’m looking forward to making a few bubblers.