Shaping Glassblowing at Cal Poly
Decades ago — before glassblowing was offered as electives or classes at the ASI Craft Center — artist George Jercich came to teach at Cal Poly with a pioneering spirit.
A glass sculpture artist and retired art and design professor, Jercich developed and taught more than 10 classes and 8,000 students in the Art and Design Department over 10 years. He started the first glassblowing class at Cal Poly, which inspired the addition of a studio on campus for students to develop skills in glasswork.
Today, Jercich owns Jercich Glass Studio, in which he creates metalwork, glass and support structures like lamp stands, chandelier frames, installations and garden beds. His work has been shown at many art shows over the decades, from art galleries in town to the San Luis Obispo Botanical Gardens.
Jercich was inspired to become an artist by his own professor at San Jose State University as an undergraduate student. This meaningful mentorship changed the course of his career, and it inspired him to provide that same mentorship to students as a professor himself.
“It was an interesting experience, being a seminal figure to artisans who wanted to pursue their particular form of creative expression through the medium of glass,” Jercich said. “And that’s kind of how I came into it too. My instructor did that for me. So, I tried to mentor as many students as I could.”
Jercich’s career has taken him all over the world, from Czechoslovakia to Venice to Southeast Asia. While at Cal Poly, he accompanied students on study abroad trips to Thailand for Pacific Rim Study Group and taught drawing and sculpture abroad.
Jercich has fond memories of students over the years, many of which remind him of his own career as an artist. In particular, he remembers a group of students who created their own glasswork studio after taking his class. Many of them still create glasswork today.
Jercich now works at his home studio on a small farm near Morro Bay. There, he works on his own projects, raises olives, and teaches glass blowing and casting lessons.
“I’ve had a really great run,” Jercich said. “I’m really lucky my career ended up the way it did.”