Edd Johannemann pic

Edd Johannemann says he finds creating sculptures out of glass therapeutic. He says his art reflects things that he feels are important. “Maybe not in a way that can be written down. But hopefully my art will convey something to the viewer.”

Local artist Edd Johannemann’s glass sculptures first pull the eye in with color and light, using literal layers of detail constructed with recycled materials. But the message behind each piece is what’s most precious to him.

The Kentucky Arts Council apparently got Johannemann’s message, awarding him as one of four Emerging Artists in the state. He received a $1,000 grant, and used it on a course given by another artist, preparing himself to add painted-stained and fused glass into his repertoire.

“To get to be able to do that, with another artist — I was extremely happy to have received it.” And, he says, extremely happy the state is “throwing support behind visual artists and the arts in general.”

Johannemann will also be featured in “Time and Place,” a solo art show at La Grange’s Gallery 104 in October. The collection, some of it still in the works, will focus on the environment — a reoccurring theme.

He also does commissioned pieces, with some of his clients bringing broken antique glass items to him to sculpt it into something they can keep forever.

Johannemann was in the printing industry for several years, eventually ending up in photography and graphic design. But he’s been in and around art “for as long as I can remember,” and has drawn since a kid.

Then, “when my wife and I built our house, she decided she needed some stained-glass windows. I took a class for it, so she got her windows …” and Johannemann found a new medium.

His work often incorporates photography, as well as woodworking he picked up from past jobs. The pieces “reflect things I feel are important to be put out into the world, and to address issues.”

Johannemann’s sea turtle series, made with green glass from found bottles, deals with the oncoming extinction of the species. “The thing about the turtle, right now, on our planet, we’re living through the greatest mass-extinction since the dinosaurs.”

“Midnight in the Turtle’s Garden,” for instance, has a clock-face that’s set at five till midnight. “It’s not just the fact we’re losing these species, but what little time we have left to correct this … Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

He uses layers of glass over a photo of a woman in a piece called “Eve Forgets,” signifying the different layers of dementia humans can go through.

“My mom passed away two years ago from dementia …” and Johannemann says he began thinking about the greater implications.

“If you no longer remember having done something, that memory has been stripped away and the person you were has been stripped away, is there a form of redemption? Are you still culpable for what you’ve done?”

A piece that’s provoked some interesting conversations at past shows is “Portrait of Self: America.” Johannemann created it for a political art showing, but says he wanted something “that regardless of where you were on the political spectrum, you can look into it and go, ‘Oh, I get it.’”

Red, white and blue glass depicts a flag that’s being ripped apart into ribbons by barbed wire tearing through it, all set on American chestnut. He says he makes sure this one is hung at a certain height so that viewers get a reflection of themselves.

“Everybody brings their own set of assumptions and prejudices, and having a set of ideals on what America ‘should be.’ The flag being torn apart is offensive, but when you look at it and see yourself looking back out … you realize, we own this product collectively.”

You can’t eliminate half of the country, he says. “The only way out of this is to figure out a way to get along.”

Johannemann says he usually spends 40-80 hours on each piece, but has had some six-month-long projects before, from inception to completion. “I can devote most of my time to art now, and it’s a blessing to be able to do it full-time.”

Johannemann’s art will be on display at Gallery 104 Oct. 18-Nov. 14, with an opening reception on Oct. 21.

To see more of Johannemann’s work, visit glasschisel.com.