What does the future of glass art look like? In this session, an open question was raised. The four panelists shared their thoughts from various perspectives.
Professor of Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing
Austria Artist Based in the Netherlands
Curator of National Glass Museum and the Tutor in Design Academy Eindhoven
French Artist Based in the Netherlands
1. Suojia ZHANG
Mr. Suojia ZHANG’s speech “Involution vs Evolution” explored the relations between glass education and current market.
Should schools train students into craftsmen or artists? Should the focus be on techniques or artistic expression? Mr. ZHANG believes that it lacks clear concepts and curriculum framework nowadays. A positive example to tackle these issues is the Pilchuck glass school. This school has built a community for artists and educators and combined old world craftsmanship, new world individual artistic expression, and effective teamwork altogether.
The glass market in China faces severe challenges in terms of employment and sustainable survival. According to Mr. ZHANG, glass museums in China are extremely rare and the largest market only lies in Buddhist and tea cultural products. However, the alliance offers a more promising future for glass art in China.
2. Job MEIHUIZEN
With an art historian’s perspective, Mr. Job MEIHUIZEN believes that glass art has a quite bright future. However, being also a design historian, he thinks that the future for glass design is less promising. There are less and less glass design in the Netherlands nowadays. One of the reasons is that there is no glassware factory in the Netherlands anymore, which cuts off the connection between the material of glass and the field of design. He hopes there will be more exchanges between studio glass and design academies.
Recently he is working on a design research project in the National Glass Museum. This project is to invite various contemporary artists and designers to come up with contemporary versions of trick glasses. They do it on the basis of historical examples with old glass-making techniques.
3. Katrin MAURER
For Ms. Katrin MAURER, working with transparent glass is like working with something which is not really there. However, glass can burn or cut. Consequently, it becomes a strong symbolic metaphor for the invisible dangers, the hidden threats in our lives.
The starting point for her work is writing and language. An example is her work “1986”, which refers to the year of the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl. Texts on each rotable glass element refer in different ways to this cataclysmic event. One third of the texts were poems written by artist herself.
The installation “the Spectacle” combines elements from an old German dictionary, texts from the artist and portraits of women writers, politicians and scientists. It shows the social and emotional discrepancy between progress and tradition, between social norms and creativity.
4. Judith ROUX
What attracts the young artist Judith ROUX in the glass material are its transparency and its changing state between solidity and liquidity. Her artwork aims to challenge people’s ways of engaging with their surroundings.
The work “up to / the brink” was used by Ms. ROUX as a study case to share her ongoing reflection on sustainability. She also links this work to the impact from the pandemic in crystallizing the urgency of preexisting issues specific to the field.
“The space between us-my warm breath on your hands” invites the public to participate in the display of the artwork by holding a glass panel with a performer licking it. It challenges the usual inter-personal space we maintain, the behaviors we follow and allow from others. Art leads us to accept and encounter what we usually would not.
Q & A (Selected):
- The question is to Mr. Job MEIHUIZEN: what do you mean exactly by saying there is a gap between design and art?
At the moment we only have one real professional education department: the glass department (of Gerrit Rietveld Academy) and its focus is on art. Since there is no glass factory anymore and no connection between design school and the glass world, that’s why I think there is a gap between glass and glass design.
On this question, Ms. Katrin MAURER also added that with design, there is always a function and that’s a distinction between art and design.
- Comparing to the negative image of Chinese porcelain manufacturing with low-cost labor and poor quality, what is the situation of glass in China?
Mr. ZHANG answered that in China there are lots of glass factories. Therefore, a considerable quantity of products is being produced. There are mainly two domains for glass products in China: architectural glass and daily-use glass.
In the glass art market, unfortunately there is no glass art gallery and very few glass art museums. Thus, the situation is extremely difficult for the glass artists. In contrast, because of the mass glass production, glass designers in China can make their living. However, there is no design value in factories.