Seen for the first time, sculptor Jordan Griska’s piece “Grumman Greenhouse” installed outside in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Lenfest Plaza, is quite a shock. Like something out of a Christopher Nolan film, a World War II bomber has crashed smack into the pavement, stopping time. The gut reaction is to run over to the plane and see if anyone’s still alive, but, instead, peering into the cockpit, one finds a greenhouse with live plants nurtured by a heat lamp and watering system. A sigh of relief, and then amusement.
When I lived on the east side of Broad St., I intentionally rode by the site every weekday on my bike ride to work. It reminded me of how precious and strange life is. It woke me up, as good art should do.
Griska, a PAFA alumni who now lives in Brooklyn, saw the Grumman Bomber on e-bay, bought it and had it shipped. He fixed any damaged parts, added some needed metal, and then got to work re-damaging it into it’s current nose-dive shape before installing it and fitting it out with the greenhouse to grow nutritive and medicinal plants which are donated to City Harvest to help feed the poor and homeless.
In an artist’s statement he notes that “these repurposed finished pieces simultaneously lead the viewer to contemplate the history of ‘the thing’ while changing the function of the object.”