When Slate Grove graduated from Fort Dodge Senior Excessive in 1997, he had no concept that nearly 25 years later, he’d be dwelling 4,545 miles away, operating the glass studio at one of many world’s high artwork colleges.
However that’s precisely the place he’s at this time.
Grove moved to Espoo, Finland, to work because the Glass Workshop Grasp at Aalto College, in 2020 – a transfer that began greater than a decade earlier than.
When he graduated, Grove needed to be a highschool physics instructor, impressed by a highschool physics instructor he had at FDSH. He spent a semester at a neighborhood school in California earlier than returning to Fort Dodge to enroll at Iowa Central Neighborhood Faculty.
Whereas taking lessons at Iowa Central, Grove additionally labored as a tattoo artist at Everlasting Collections in Fort Dodge.
“I used to be all the time into artwork,” he stated. “One in every of my older brothers was actually good at drawing so I type of idolized him like most little brother’s do.”
He stated he doesn’t keep in mind taking any artwork lessons in highschool, however he did begin taking artwork programs at Iowa Central.
A number of years later, his girlfriend on the time satisfied him to use to the Cleveland Institute of Artwork, the place he ended up incomes a scholarship to attend. He continued tattooing in Cleveland for the primary few semesters of artwork faculty.
Having grown up in a household with a protracted historical past with vehicles and drag racing, Grove noticed himself turning into an industrial designer, finally designing automobiles in Detroit.
“I had by no means even thought of how glass was shaped,” he stated. “I had by no means watched any movies or understood what glassblowing was.”
So out of curiosity, Grove determined to enroll in a glassblowing class on the Cleveland Institute of Artwork, and only a few weeks into the category, determined he was going to be a glass main.
Shortly earlier than Grove began graduate faculty at Illinois State College, he was operating a glass studio in North Carolina on the Penland College of Crafts. A few college students got here by way of the glass studio who have been from Finland and he received to know them. When one of many college students returned to Finland to show at a technical faculty within the “oldest, continuous-running glass village in Finland,” she invited Grove to return to Finland to show through the summer time of 2010.
“Once I received right here to show, it was what could be thought-about a scorching sculpting class, so it’s very a lot not like making vases or bowls or cups or something like that,” he stated. “Extra making sculpture, and little or no of that had ever been executed or taught in Finland.”
Grove stated it was thrilling for his first time going abroad and instructing one thing that was new and totally different on the glass panorama in Finland.
He returned to Finland the next two summers to collaborate with a well known designer and glassblower on a brand new sequence of the designer’s work.
Throughout these journeys to Finland, Grove fell in love with the European nation.
“The folks, the countryside, the environment, all of these issues have been actually, actually great,” he stated. “So I type of was simply searching for a cause and a option to get again right here.”
When the place he now holds at Aalto College opened up final 12 months, Grove jumped on the alternative to work at one of many highest ranked universities in northern Europe, and one of many highest ranked artwork colleges on the earth.
Previous to shifting again to Finland in 2020, Grove was additionally a professor and ran the glass studio at Ball State College from 2016 to 2019, and did the identical at Illinois State from 2019 to 2020.
Grove’s grasp’s diploma thesis was titled “On a regular basis Heroes” and impressed by the blue-collar industries and employees he noticed and knew whereas rising up in Fort Dodge. He graduated together with his grasp’s of wonderful arts diploma in 2013.
“I made a lot of glass instruments and objects that folks work with after they work with their fingers,” he stated.
He used clear glass to represent employees like cleansing workers, mechanics, plumbers and different folks that many don’t discover are there till they want them. His work was featured in a glass artwork journal revealed in New York Metropolis and some months later, he was contacted by the studio supervisor for Yoko Ono, who needed Grove to manufacture some glass artwork items for her.
“I believe we made seven or eight of those glass hammers for her,” Grove stated.
He continued doing glass artwork sequence for Ono over the subsequent a number of years, however he by no means had the chance to fulfill her in individual. The glass artwork items have been on show in her galleries in Tokyo, Manhattan and London.
“I nonetheless have all of the checks that she despatched me with Yoko Ono Lennon printed on the verify, which is one thing that I’ve simply held onto as a result of I believed it was cool,” Grove stated.
Grove is formally skilled in glass artwork, however he additionally spends loads of time doing sculpture and dealing with metal and wooden. Throughout his undergraduate years, he additionally minored in jewellery.
“I really like working with glass, but it surely’s not all the time the suitable materials for what I’m attempting to say,” he stated.
Three or 4 years in the past, he began melting crayons to make AK-47 bullets.
“To type of speak about, like present points and instructing children about weapons,” the artist defined. “What’s the suitable age? What will we educate them once we educate them about weapons?”
He defined that these sorts of conceptual concepts don’t actually make sense with glass, so he took his data of sculpture and moldmaking to create the silicone molds of the bullets and used his oven at dwelling to soften the crayons into the mildew.
Grove takes inspiration for his artwork from many locations, together with present occasions and the political panorama.
“Possibly not all the time political, but it surely’s all the time one thing to do with what the world that I’m dwelling in, what’s round me and what’s occurring,” he stated.
Being an American in Finland has compelled Grove to make some changes, however he stated it hasn’t been all that troublesome.
“Everybody right here speaks amazingly good English, particularly within the capital area,” he stated.
There are some small issues which are related all through most European nations, Grove stated, like homes and flats are smaller, and even fridges are smaller.
A number of the issues Grove misses most about dwelling are barbecue and grilled candy corn. He stated he additionally misses seeing his mother, who now lives in California, however stated they discuss on a regular basis.
Whereas being 1000’s of miles from his hometown, Grove retains in contact by way of social media.
“I really like watching Fb for stuff from Fort Dodge,” he stated. “There are such a lot of actually gifted athletes which are simply unimaginable folks.”
The person who held the Glass Workshop Grasp place previous to Grove had been within the place for about 25 years, Grove stated. He stated that he feels fairly safe in his new job and plans to be there for some time.
“I’d love to remain in Finland, and I believe that I’ll,” he stated. “However I’m additionally not tying myself to wherever.”
Grove seems to be again fondly on his childhood in Fort Dodge and the desires he had in highschool.
“I’ve realized over the past perhaps 10 years now that I’m nonetheless a physics instructor,” he stated. “I simply do it with glass as a substitute of in a classroom with a guide. I really like what Fort Dodge gave me so far as a small-town environment with associates and pleasant faces, even with folks I didn’t know. And I believe that that’s helped me to be as profitable as I’ve been in different elements of the nation and world as a result of there’s one thing about the best way that I used to be raised and the place that I used to be raised that I believe sticks with us endlessly.”