November 14, 2007

Art and Design graduate gets jump-start on career

by Andrea Hahn


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CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Art and Design graduate Jeremy Griffith has a pretty fair start to his resume — working on commissioned art for an award presented to former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, Sr., and also to Melinda French Gates by the international not-for-profit organization Save the Children.

If that's not enough, he was working with and on a design created by Stephen Burlingham, perfumer, artist, creator of "luxury items" and the great-grandson of the renowned designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. Further, the commission included working with Baccarat Crystal, a name synonymous with royalty and the very finest in crystal and glass production.

Griffith, currently a graduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology, graduated with a bachelor's degree of fine arts from SIUC in 2006. He credits his time at SIUC with teaching him to pursue perfection.

"Working under the amazing cold glass artist (assistant professor of glass) Jiyong Lee, I saw the perfection that could be obtained and learned how to obtain that perfection," he said.

But how did Griffith get in on such a project? Burlingham had the commission, Griffith said, but found he needed a new crew at the last minute. Burlingham consulted with Michael Rogers, one of Griffith's professors, who recommended Griffith, based partly on Griffith's work with custom glass company Michael's Glass and Mirror, Inc.

Griffith signed on and had only four days to do his part, resulting in 20-hour workdays, he said.

"Stephen designed and had the pieces formed," Griffith said. "My job was to take the pieces from a formed rough blank and hand-grind and polish every surface. Crystal is much softer than glass and it is actually more difficult to obtain a perfect polish on it. Stephen and I worked together on a possibility for the edges of his design – at first they were all flat edges, then he and I worked through a design to make the top edge a smooth curve."

The awards Griffith helped create were part of the 75th anniversary celebration of a sold-out event for Save the Children at New York's Lincoln Center on Sept. 6. The organization honored Bush and Clinton for humanitarian service after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and Hurricane Katrina. Gates is part of Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives program. Save the Children recognized her efforts to reduce infant mortality rates.


Save the Children — Southern Illinois University Carbondale alum and former Murphysboro resident Jeremy Griffith had a hand in designing the award former President Bill Clinton is holding in this picture, taken during the 75th anniversary observance of the not-for-profit organization Save the Children. Griffith, who graduated from SIUC with a bachelor's degree in fine arts in 2006, worked with famous designer Stephen Burlingham to complete the awards and assisted with finishing touches to the design. He is currently a graduate student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Clinton is shown with Robert A. Daly, former head of Warner Brothers, the Los Angeles Dodgers and CBS Entertainment, and now the chairman of Save the Children Board of Trustees.

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