In this symposium, two Dutch and two Chinese artists from different generations shared their inspiration and their working process. These works showed the audience a variety of creation from a same material – glass.
Head of the Glass Department of Gerrit Rietveld Academy
Founder of the Glass Studio of China Academy of Art
Head of the Glass Studio of Shanghai Polytechnic University
Associate Professor at Tsinghua University.
1. Jens PFEIFER
Mr. Jens PFEIFER first gave us an introduction of the glass department of Gerrit Rietveld
Academy. Since its foundation in 1969, the glass department has always been focusing on innovative teaching methods with a contemporary perspective. Techniques are tools, not goals. In order to break free from the conventions, students here are encouraged to learn various disciplines including writing, philosophy, sculpture, painting and even performance art.
Mr. PFEIFER also presented his initiation of an international platform for educational strategies and perspectives in glass art: Glass Virus. Being the first educational platform for glass art worldwide, Glass Virus strives for exploring the definition and the future of glass art since 2013. Even during the pandemic, it continues to develop actively webinars with educators, artists and curators from the field of glass art.
2. Tai XIAO
In the last two decades, glass art has significantly developed and prospered in China. A generation of glass artists was born and they have become the pillar for Chinese glass art education. Mr. Tai XIAO from Shanghai Polytechnic University talked about the responsibilities and challenges for educators in China.
An increasing popularity in studying glass art among students comes hand in hand with more responsibilities for the educators. Through international exchanges, use of new technology and multidisciplinary teaching, students here are not only trained to have a solid foundation of techniques, but are also cultivated to have critical thinking and creative working habit.
Glass art academies also face challenges. New technologies offer more possibilities in art creation, but they also demand quick adaptivity from educators. New goals need to be set for cultivating young talents in glass art academies.
3. Wen LI
Mr. Wen LI has a multicultural learning experience in art. As early as in 1989, he was sent by the Chinese government to Soviet Union to study mural painting. After he came back to China, he was exposed to glass art by chance and has engaged himself in this field ever since. Later he went to Czech Republic to further study glass art, before creating glass art studio in China Academy of Art in 2006.
During his speech, Mr. Wen LI focused on the importance of exhibitions and international exchanges in glass art education. Since 2014, various exhibitions and seminars between China Academy of Art and other glass institutions around the world have been held, which broadened students’ horizons significantly. His current projects also involve a thorough research on the contemporary history of glass art in China.
4. Jing Li
Mr. Jing LI’s teaching philosophy is the result from his experience as an artist as well as a student in both in China and the United States. He combines the essence of the ancient, the contemporary, the west and the east into his teaching. His classroom is a construction of studio practice, discussion, lecture and professional development. Critique is the core of students’ learning process. The understanding of glass as a medium for expression and communication is achieved through practice, struggle and experimentation.
To enhance the educational experience, hot glass workshops are being upgraded in the department of Arts and Design in Tsinghua university. In order to deepen their understanding for glass art, students also pay visits to glass factories, practice in studios and communicate with artists. In the end of Mr. LI’s speech, his students’ artworks were also presented.
Q & A (Selected):
- What are the motivations for Chinese students to study glass art?
According to Mr. Tai XIAO, there are mainly two motivations: most students in art academies choose this major aiming to become glass artists; while students in comprehensive universities tend to study this subject for its practicality in applied art. But for both kinds of students, it is the versatile nature of glass as a material that attracts them the most.
Mr. Wen LI completed the answer by explaining that because this field is very new, students will have the possibility to found glass art departments in different art academies in China after they finish their studies.
- What is the future of the hot glass and glass blowing in China?
Mr. Jing LI stated that comparing to many western countries, China still has lots of glass factories. These factories serve as important resources in the glass art education. He further elaborated this point by giving an example in Shanxi and Shandong province, where blowing glass studios were introduced in factories, which will without doubt have an impact on the glass art education. He believes that in ten or twenty years, there will be great development in blowing glass in China