From LA to PA
Three things you need to know about glass artist Jaime Guerrero.
1. He is one of the few and first artists in the world to sculpt life-size figures in glass.
Guerrero was recently one of Craft in America’s featured artists. He was featured on TV in an episode Craft in America’s 2017 PBS episode titled NEIGHBORS, which looked at the interrelated craft practices of Mexico and the United States. The episode highlighted Guerrero’s exhibit at the Craft in America Center. WATCH the episode.
His installation "Broken Dreams" debuted in the exhibition “Mano Made: New Expression in Craft by Jaime Guerrero” and focused on a young boy batting at a piñata representing the hopes, dreams, and anticipation of refugee children crossing the US border each day. The life-sized blown and sculpted glass youth surrounded by broken glass and caged by a fence illustrated those innocent souls being detained and the struggles the young immigrants face in search for a better life. The playful aspect of the scene depicted invited the viewer in, eventually to experience the more serious and darker truths at the heart of the piece. An important component of the installation was a wall of letters from local migrant youth in Los Angeles that told their firsthand accounts of their migration experiences. Through this exhibition, Guerrero hoped to humanize the experience of these youth and the true struggles they face in their quest and to validate them by giving them representation and a platform to share their stories.
2. He is sculpting life-size kids AND crocodiles.
Guerrero believes in Buddhist ideals. He said, “Buddhism teaches that ignorance is the cause of all conflict. It makes sense especially when I think about our society today and the hardships kids face in underserved communities.” He said that he wanted to find a way to communicate this message with his art.
“My work is about intersecting experiences and the rediscovery and shaping of relics into new forms as a way of self-questioning. Many things can exist as relics. In my vocabulary relics can be ancient artifacts, but can also exist as metaphors for objects in our memory or the past,” he said.
In LA, Guerrero experienced many difficulties. He said that he was lucky to not get in trouble growing up there, but there are many kids that aren’t so fortunate and they are extremely talented. He described the face of defeat that was so prevalent among the people in the neighborhoods he grew up in - a weariness that comes from straddling two cultures and not feeling like you belong in either. In response, he launched a glassblowing program for undeserved youth in South Central Los Angeles to help the kids express their creativity and learn teamwork and sometimes a trade. He estimates that he’s taught over 500 kids. He’s seen the transformation glass can make in a young person’s life and he wants to do more.
He wants to replicate and grow the program at Pittsburgh Glass Center.
Guerrero explained, ”Historically I’ve seen references to crocodiles used as talismen to ward off sickness, disease and ignorance. I was intrigued and inspired to experiment in the hot shop making life-size crocodiles as metaphors for enlightenment.”
3. He lives in Pittsburgh now.
Guerrero is an artist and craftsman from Los Angeles. He relocated to Pittsburgh to be closer to his wife’s family. Guerrero and his wife and daughter live in Pittsburgh’s Regent Square neighborhood, within walking distance to Frick Park which he says is a huge luxury compared to LA.
Here at PGC, he is continuing to sculpt crocodiles and build a youth program. He’s developing his narrative around immigration, child migration and the current refugee crisis by producing life-sized blown glass children. Look for an exhibition of his work at PGC in the future working with youth from the community who will share stories of their migration.
“I hope to promote a conversation between refugee or migrant families and local residents. It would be wonderful to share this body of work with the changing and growing Pittsburgh community,” he said.
We’re so happy to welcome Jaime Guerrero as our new neighbor.
Come to PGC in April to meet him:
- Watch him create an alligator at the April 6 Hot Jam
- Take a class with Jaime Guerrero - Advanced Sculpting Thursdays 6:30-9:30pm
- Take a class with Jaime Guerrero - Advanced Blown Forms Fridays 9:30am-12:30pm
READ more about him.