Glass sculpture artist Jason Mack, along with four assistants, has found a way to spread holiday cheer and build community spirit despite the challenges 2020 has brought to so many. They are building a tree made entirely from steel and recycled glass on a lot in Champaign, Illinois. The tree will measure 31 feet in height with a circumference of 52 feet at the base and weigh in at approximately two tons, which will beat the current world record held by a 27.5-foot glass tree in Italy. The tree is comprised of glass donated by the community, then melted down at 2,300 degrees in a mobile smelt then poured onto a spinning metal frame to form the tree’s branches and needles.
Mack is an alumni of the College of DuPage Art Program, located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. According to a release from the College, Mack said “Building the sculpture on-site provides a great way to bring my work out of the studio and contribute to the life of the community. I like breaking the mold of glassblowers working and laboring over a piece of art in a studio and then bringing the finished project to the world. I’m not as interested in selling objects as I am in projects that involve the community and bring people together.”
The response from the community has been huge. According to Mack, “The build attracted hundreds of attendees opening weekend and the team received approximately 2,000 pounds of donated glass, more than half of what they need to complete the tree.”
The College of DuPage (COD) is among the state’s public colleges and universities with nearly 25,000 students, making it the second largest provider of undergraduate education in the State of Illinois, after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mack is a native of Glen Ellyn and earned his Associate in Fine Arts degree at COD. He currently teaches glassblowing classes in the Urbana-Champaign area.