Meet Grant and Erin Garmezy
Grant and Erin Garmezy first crossed paths in the halls of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). As it turns out, they were “locker neighbors” in the VCU glass department. Erin was one year ahead of Grant in school and enrolled in the VCU glass program with some previous experience in glassmaking. Grant was studying jewelry and metal when he found glass and was immediately drawn in by its allure.
Their chance meeting in the VCU hallway was just the first of many pivotal moments the two would share. Grant and Erin earned degrees in Craft/Material Studies from VCU. Shortly thereafter, Grant participated as a member of the inaugural Chrysler Museum Glass Studio Assistantship class in 2011. During his time in Norfolk, he helped to break in the new studio and had a hand in shaping it into what it is today. One of his favorite memories from the experience was getting to know the famous glass artist Lino Tagliapietra, and while at a dinner party, chopping onions next to him in the kitchen.
In July 2013, we invited Grant back to Norfolk as the featured artist for a Third Thursday performance at the Perry Glass Studio. Erin made the trip with him. At the conclusion of the evening, Grant surprised Erin—and the entire audience—by taking a knee and proposing marriage to her! The special moment was very fitting to their relationship and is fondly remembered by all who were there to witness it.
Since their marriage, Erin and Grant have exhibited and taught glassmaking around the world. Their talents have taken them to Corning, New York; Turkey; Swaziland; Japan; and many other places. Grant received the 10 Under 10 award from his alma mater, honoring ten noteworthy and distinctive alumni of VCU who graduated in the past decade. Their collaborative work was featured on the cover of Glass Art magazine, and they recently built Dragon Ranch, a beautiful glass studio at their home in Richmond, Virginia. The facility has allowed them to spend more time on individual works and focus intently on the details of projects.
Both artists grew up in small-town America. Erin is originally from Culpepper, Virginia, and Grant was raised on a farm just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The pastoral environment of their youth— specifically interactions with livestock, wildlife, and natural settings—manifests in their collaborative sculptures, which are typically pairings of flora and fauna. Erin moved from blowing glass vessels at the furnace to sculpting glass plant life on a torch when she studied with Italian Maestro and VCU professor Emilio Santini, and later Robert Mickelsen and David Willis. Grant finds the challenge and intensity of working with the material to be highly rewarding. By constantly studying new subject matter, he loves to explore and progress. Pushing the material in new directions keeps him interested and fuels his inspiration to create.
The husband-and-wife team will bring all that inspires them to the Perry Glass Studio September 11–13 for the Visiting Artist Series. They plan to spend their time in Norfolk focusing on a new series of works featuring reptiles and snakes coupled with sculpted flowers. During live demonstrations, they will use their impressive technical skill to turn molten glass into realistic forms. They will share even more insight about their processes during an online lecture on September 11 at 7 p.m.
This will mark the first time a graduate of the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio Assistantship is featured as a Visiting Artist, which is a great source of pride for me. The Studio Assistantship is an educational opportunity designed for emerging artists who have recently completed an undergraduate degree program in glass or who are pursuing a professional career working in glass. This six-month program provides practical, professional studio experience in a museum setting. Studio Assistants contribute to the Studio’s operations by assisting with public glass demonstrations, public and college classes, maintenance, audio-visual support, and special events for up to 20 hours a week. Grant sites the program as an important stepping stone in his career and development as an artist.
We look forward to having Grant and Erin back with us for the Visiting Artist Series. The Perry Glass Studio capacity is significantly reduced and we highly recommend that you reserve tickets for the demonstrations in advance. All events are free thanks in part to support from the Rutter Family Art Foundation. If you are able at this time, donations are welcome to support ongoing Glass Studio programming.
–Robin Rogers, Perry Glass Studio Manager and Program Director