Although writing is an integral part of academia, it often seems to be lacking in the field of art. It is true that many post-graduate programs often require a writing element as part of the curriculum, but what about those still pursuing undergraduate degrees or those still trying to find their way in their artistic practice? Does the importance and magnitude of writing not hold the same in such arenas of academia? Is the ability of the artist to explain his or her ideas through writing necessarily saved until the post-graduate or professional levels? Writing should be equally as important regardless of what level of academia a person is involved. Writing should be a part of every area of art academia from the under-graduate level all the way up through the professors who are teaching the students.
I strongly believe that writing is a vital component to every artist’s work. Writing allows an artist to explain his or her work, describe what the work is about, extrapolate his or her thoughts and ideas that were involved in creating work, and to present any research or conclusions that were involved in creating the work. Teaching such practices to a younger audience and expressing the importance of writing to the better-acquainted artist does a few things that benefit the artist as an individual and the glass world as a whole.
First and foremost, molding the ability to write along side the ability to create will allow better, more critical writing to be the standard. If an issue in glass pedagogy is the lack of critical writing that exists within the glass world, it makes sense that promoting such practices amongst newcomers in the glass world would be the natural solution to this problem. By showing students the importance of writing in an artistic practice at a younger age, we can expect more advanced writing to come from students who have been involved in writing just as long as they have been involved in art. Integrating such work into the curriculums of glass departments around the world will hopefully create a greater number of seasoned contributors to the conversation in the glass world. Not only does this tactic help promote and spread knowledge amongst the glass world through the sharing of writing, but it also helps to clarify knowledge and concepts within an individual’s own artistic practice.
Just as important as spreading knowledge and concepts throughout the glass world through writing is the ability of one to realize more clearly the goals, intentions, and concepts of his or her artistic practice. One of the easiest and most helpful ways for this to come to fruition is through writing. The ability of one to write ultimately translates to the ability to think critically. As an artist, is this not an extremely vital characteristic to have? Similar to sketching, a standard for the artist, writing provides a means through which ideas can be explored and expanded upon. Writing allows for ideas to become more and more developed and articulated. It allows for the incorporation of research and hard data that may not be as easily explained through the language of sketch. Additionally, it can lead to new ideas and realizations that may not have been there before. Writing, similar to sketching, may reveal complications or simplifications for ideas or projects. It may lead to new ideas and areas of interest. Or, it may simply lead to an explanation of the work and the artist’s thoughts and processes. Regardless of the outcome, writing has the ability to promote knowledge, solidify thought processes, and clarify issues that may come about during artistic creation or during the act of writing itself. Having the recorded experiences and knowledge of artists through their writings will surely help to promote the future of glass art, the art world as a whole, and the propagation of artistic knowledge to future generations.
Interdisciplinary artistic practice, although seeming omnipresent in contemporary art, all too often seems out of place arena of glass education, at least as far as my education and discussions are concerned. In my opinion, this lack of interdisciplinary practice may be part of the reason behind the identity crisis facing many glass artists. If artists used glass outside of the “glass art” realm, perhaps the term “glass artist” would have less of a stigma within the glass community. At least, it would create a definition that is not so tightly bound to the material it is meant to embody. It is true that glass is a very specific medium with very specific ways of working with it, but to expand this knowledge into other fields and other media will not only help promote artistic creation within all fields, but will create a deeper understanding of the material of glass itself.
I strongly think that interdisciplinary studies should be included in the curriculums of glass programs around the world. By allowing students to engage with materials other than glass, their concepts, ideas, ways of working, and means of creating will create a deeper understanding of an individual’s artistic practice as well as knowledge of materials. With such unique properties, I think that it would be extremely helpful for artists to study glass in lieu of other materials that may help promote an idea or concept. To put it another way, relying solely on glass to create a work of art is not always practical or efficient. In my experience, many glass students feel the need to stick to the material, making it the centerpiece for the artwork they create. But on the contrary, glass should just be another means through which artistic conclusion can be reached. It should not be the lone driving force and material for the execution of a concept. Although, it is true that some artists work strictly in this way – working within the conversation of glass about glass, using glass in all of its splendor and glory, but this is a different story. As stated above, interdisciplinary practices are an integral part of contemporary artwork and pushing young artists to pursue such endeavors will help expand their artistic knowledge, create comfort while using other materials, and promote open-minded thinking when coming to conclusions in creating a concept.
In addition to these practical applications to interdisciplinary glass practice, it can also help expand the conceptual field within which artists are working. The unique properties of glass (transparency, light, projection, fragility, heat, liquidity, etc) are all very interesting in and of themselves, whether or not they are being directly related to glass. This being said, exploring such phenomena outside the field of glass will surely help to expand an artist’s knowledge both in and outside the field of glass. These alternate explorations of the properties of glass can lead to new concepts, new ideas, and new ways of using and perceiving the material that we all love – glass.
I believe that one of the goals of the educational system is supposed to be preparation of the students for the reality outside of the academy. It sounds obvious, but it seems to me sometimes, that this aspect might be quite underestimated.
We tend to think that the alumni should take care themselves, fight their own battles. I agree with that. But let´s think how we can prepare them for this. The time after graduation is often difficult and confusing. The alumni are confronted with feeling that no one in fact needs art and doesn´t really understand what they want to say, questioning the very meaning of their own work.
We should make students ready for that, so they don´t get lost immediately somewhere between struggling to find some job to cover the bills, setting up their studio and trying to find at least some time for their own art, which maybe someone will appreciate enough to buy.
This might sound maybe a bit too tough, but it is not only my own personal experience. I have heard that from graduates far too often. Something should be done about it. This question might not be so crucial in all places, and of course the situation in each country and department has its own specifics.
I will divide this topic into few segments which influence each other and form together the main features of the picture from my point of view.
The position of alumni in the workfield is in large part given by his professional abilities in art, craft and design. I will not write about it now, not because I don´t conseder it important, but because it would be a topic for another essay. The theme which interests me now are the other factors and alumni´s interaction with the professional environment. I will write from our own experiences and situation. Hoping that it will have some use for the others aswell.
Students and Their Tools
One of the factors is how will alumni be prepared for the challenging situation after their graduation. Not only considering their art skills, but ability to establish themselves. Self-presentation, Communication, Art management, Basics of Bussiness knowledge.
Who, how and when should introduce students to these problems?
As I understand, in some countries students come to the academy already quite educated in financial problems and self-presentation. Unfortunately we are not in such a position. I daresay that some of our applicants come with almost no education in this sphere.
The academy started to solve this by offering courses of Art Managment and Presentation skills and they are mostly overcrowded. I believe that there will be more courses in the future.
Those lessons are not focused on how to make the best sellable pieces. They are about how to present the art piece to the wider audience, communicate with media, where to look for fundings to set up studios, to create projects and find a way to live from making their own art or design, which is the goal. We want our students to approach this theme consciously with awareness of its pros and cons.
We cannot protect them by hiding information away from them. Our students have to be intelligent enough to be able to critically evaluate the information they get. All of them will have to deal with the commercial aspect of their work sooner or later and will have to take some position to it.
Another important factor of course is the environment - meaning galleries, museums, curators, market, companies, industry, professional public, collectors, journalists. The world students will meet during the studies and enter after their graduation and with which we all, and our departments, more or less interact.
The Glass Environment - Interconnected Systems
The glass sphere in Czech republic is pretty much interdependent. We are a small country with many glass schools and a rather limited market. What happens on one side affects the other side aswell.
We see it as a simple cycle:
Glass industry situation affects, in addition to everything else, number of applicants to highschools for glass art and craft.
Number of applicants there influences quality and motivation of the students, which consequently and visibly affects the number and quality of applicants to academies.
Alumni from academies can affect company production as designers and as well the quality of highschool education as teachers.
If glass factory closes in region, where most of the people work in glass industry, no one, even from traditionally glass making family, would let their children study glass highschool.
And that starts a kind of chain reaction.
Of course our department doesn´t rely solely on applicants from glass making highschools. But it is in our interest to have a good situation in the glass scene, whether it is for possibility to use high quality workshop for students or graduates or for vacancies for alumni or just for the joy of having good craft around us. It is part of our tradition and we cannot help us not to feel proud and emotional about it.
This is just one of the cogs in a big wheel and it is rather simplified view - there are much more factors of course.
Art scene environment
The aforementioned may apply more to activities related to glass making problematics and a large part to design.
Considering solely fine art I would say that the main problem is where and how to display student works to show it to the potential future collectors and open the way for their prospective cooperation.
As I understood sometimes it is rather difficult to find a gallery which would exhibit student shows or art made of glass in general, and which would in the same time meet the demands on certain quality and representativeness together with a contemporary approach.
It might seem that environment is something we can´t do much about. I believe it is possible. It might be difficult for a single person, but departments and academies have certain possibilities.
Education of new curators
You have to educate your own curators.
That is what I heard once. I was surprised. I never thought about it in this way. I though there is plenty of them and always someone to do the exhibition. Later I understood this simple link - No curators, no shows.
I find very usefull that UMPRUM does that.
The Art History and Aesthetics Department – which provides number of art theory, history and aesthetics classes for students and general public and prepares books for the academy publishing house, have existed since founding of the academy. But some time ago started as well the educational programme (as the only school in Czech republic) for future art historians, critics and curators. The students may apply for two years Master or four years Ph.D. program.
It exists in parallel with art, design and architecture departments and in some parts they intersect.
Each theory student can join for a semester a studio of their choice and cooperate with it in theoretical tasks – texts for catalogues, exhibitions, curating or can as well have personal hands on experience with the media used in the studio – to do some objects in glass for example – which helps him to understand the problematics better.
Those programs have run for almost ten years now and we can already see very good results and influence on the art scene and increasing number and quality of academy shows and activities.
Theory students initiate a number of projects and search for new exhibition possibilities and it doesn´t even have to be a gallery in the traditional sense -sometimes it is just a window gallery, wall gallery, projects in unused places, cooperation on art festivals, happenings and so on.
All of that brings a lot of experiences to both – theory and art students, and of course ground for future cooperation between them or institutions they will eventually represent.
Academy PR and Grant Department
We as well find very usefull to have good and well functioning academy PR Department and Grant Department. Maybe you all have it. We didn´t and since it changed we find it to be great help. For Departments, Academy and the situation in general. Positive publicity in media opens much more posibilities, brings offers of cooperation in projects and so on. Also we are able to use money from grants much more often.
Discussion with highschools, cooperation with companies and studios, work traineeships, teaching traineeships
What we plan now is to enter in deeper discussion with art and design galleries, museums, curators, design and glass companies and focus on the new situation after the crisis, mutual expectations, potential cooperation and traineeships for students during their studies or right after their graduation.
Aswell we are going to organize debate with high school officials on preparation of candidates for entrance examination, about possibilities in collaboration and teaching intership for our students who take part in pedagogy classes.
We expect this to open more opportunities for our students and as well it will hopefuly support the highschools and motivate the highschool students.
Make no reason for doubts: I agree that to educate students in art, craft and design is the most important and should be the main focus of the departments. To raise skilled, intelligent, critic thinking people with deep insight in the problematics of the field who are able to create high quality works and percieve things in wider perspective.
But I also believe, that to know, at least theoretically, how to put their art or design into professional practice should be a part of student´s knowledge when finishing the academy.
Klára Horáčková, UMPRUM, Prague, 2014
UMPRUM : Visual Arts Program - a two-year Master’s Degree course in English with possibility to join studio of students choice.
UMPRUM: Department of Theory and History of Art
Did artists write statements in the past? What was their concern with their position in the art world and how did that manifest?
It seems today that the main subject of artistic writing lies in the realm of the artist statement, that we are clearly and specifically trying to define our position in the art world mostly through self-reflective, didactic writing. The idea is that an artist describes his or her work and motives as a sort of cover letter to the world when applying for acceptance and understanding.
Versus just writing! The manifesto seems to be the other model, historically: writing that takes a position rather than attempting to discover one. The manifesto indicated belief, trajectory and orientation. The artist statement seems to try and identify a point on a map. And the content of this map is comprised from status and marketing.
I understand that these are gross generalizations, but in discussing a center point along the spectrum, I feel I am not too far off. Artistic writing currently seems to be driven by insecurity or rather an attempt at creating a security in the generation of a unique identity or a recognizable position that establishes worth or value on a number of platforms. It takes the “I” from “idea” and diminishes the rest.
For the Glass World, this situation inflames an already challenging identity crisis. At the root of the problem is the craft question. What does the landscape look like when transitioning between craft and art? How does one fit into the other? How do they advance, limit or diminish each other? What is a Glass Artist? What is an Artist who works with glass? And who cares?
We do, us and a few other entities that seem to matter.
How do I define these terms? Well, I think I can best do it in a self-reflective, didactic manner. I am one of these artists who are embedded with a material and the craft surrounding that material. How do I identify?
I am a glass artist.
I work intensively with the medium of glass in direct association with the history and traditions with which it has been worked for a long time. I have trained in the craftsmanship associated with the material and my work as a glass artist is in line with the consecutive histories to which I remain attached. I work with the questions of functional design and aesthetic and am inspired by the mastery and proficiency with the material achieved by my forebears. However, I am liberated specifically by the last fifty years. The Studio Glass movement is my foundation offering me unprecedented access to a material and processes formerly limited to factory and industrial settings and fostering the use of the material as an expressive medium where I can act as designer and maker.
I am a glass artist.
In expanding the scope of my practice, I have found the exploration of the material qualities of glass to inspire my work. Moving beyond craft and history I have found that in fact, “the medium is the message.” The study of optics, transparency, stress and fracture and flexibility, liquid versus solid all found the metaphors on which I base my expression. And, it is in this realm that I explore the mystery and the magic of this material that is consistently exhibited and appreciable from the earliest pieces of Mesopotamia to the freshest Fusion Draw. It is this exploration of the quantum qualities of glass that incite my work as a Glass Artist.
I am an Artist Who Works With Glass.
I work in a great range of materials, mixed media installations, selectively including or excluding glass depending on the demands of the work. These demands can reside outside of the material explorations and craft associations. I can use glass because it represents a memory, an experience, and an emotion; or because it facilitates a means or technology. I am an artist first, I am a sculptor I can use glass the way that Roni Horn or Louise Bourgeois did, like Lyonel Feininger and Chris Burden.
I am an Artist Who Works With Glass, so put deliberately to distance myself from the Glass Artists. Why? Because I want to distinguish myself from work I don’t appreciate. Because I want to be unique, I don’t want to be pigeonholed or grouped en masse. Because I feel limited by that history, I want to break down boundaries and assumptions.
Gosh, I feel like a teenager.
Maybe that is the point? The identity crisis, the divisiveness, the insecurity comes from an immature movement dominated by a powerfully aged material history. Maybe the questioning, the pinpointing, the finger pointing should be embraced for our own emancipation and maturation? The definitions, derisions, and disaffiliations can become more than insults and cliques.
Maybe we should look at whom we are writing these definitions for, these statements. In School nowadays, we learn to write them for our own development but very quickly it turns to a duty we must remit for the institutions the juries, etc. Why else are they written and where else do they make sense? Perhaps they are of no use beyond personal development and PR…unless we expand their length to beyond 500 words and plant our feet more firmly in the ground.
After two full days of conversations and discussions on varies interesting and important questions related to education it was time for a final round-up and each think tank participant were ask to choose a subject to write about. I chose to write about writing. It does not get more meta than this!
Pen on paper. Fingers on tabs. Black on white. This is what writing is, if you break it down to the physical aspects. Nothing more, nothing less. As simple as that.
And then again sometimes writing doesn’t seem simple at all. Because as letters turns into words on your laptop screen or in you notebook, statement, opinions and reflections starts to evolve and form. And there they are, black on white, and for some reason they can suddenly seem quite intimidating. Or at least that is how writing sometimes affects me. Too much and too little at the same time. And that is when I try to remind myself that writing is just another tool from my toolkit. It is my reflection-tool.
Even though ”writing” was not on the think tank agenda as a topic on its own, it was very much a part of the discussion in general. And through these discussions it became clear that our field needs more of the written word. We need more professional writers and critics from outside of the field of glass to give an account on what is happening inside the field and about the field in general; historically, but most of all contemporary. Currently there is a lack of that and when I recently saw Glenn Adamson’s Strattman Lecture The Attack of the Blob: Glass Art and the Will to Form it occurred to me that maybe this is a “missing link”-situation. In his talk Adamson mentions that the reason why he himself has not participated in the discussion on glass is because he finds “most of it…to be involved with a kind of interior discussion that admits very few really rigorous and complex conversations to occur with other fields outside”i
This statement is dealing with what I would call a core problem of our field. The problem is that the field has for some reason closed up around itself, leaving the outside wondering what is going on inside. There is simply a lack of communication between “them” and “us”, so even though there is a discussion going on we tend to keep it to ourselves. Sometimes we do not even share it with fellow glass artist. So in terms of getting critics to seek interest in glass, we need to do a bit of work first ourselves. We need to articulate our work and our thoughts on glass and we need to write it down and share it. And by doing so these reflections will stand as evidence of the diversity of the field in general and how it position itself alongside the rest of the art world.
Another factor in this “missing link”-situation is that if it is written down it is hidden away on hard drives and only shared with few. As a recent grad student I can relate to this. I believe my 3 classmates, my professor and my tutors and my colleagues at my studio read my thesis. And that is pretty much it. Since todays art schools demands some often pretty extensive writing in form of essays and thesis’s from their students, there is already some ready-to-read material out there. Knowing that, the next step is to encourage students to share their writing by creating a platform where this can be done easily. An idea was formed by the think tank to create a database for writing within glass. Another idea was to make an essay contest for students. Both ideas could be executed by the help of some of the already exciting internet-based forums and news blogs or as a part of The Glass Virus.
To sum it up; before we can get critics from the outside to do some work for us and about us, we need to start by doing a bit of work ourselves. It will take some time and effort, but it seems like there is the will to make this happen. I am confident that there are a lot of very interesting written thoughts, ideas and stories on glass out there.
Now, can we please read them?
i Glenn Adamson, The Attack of the Blob: Glass Art and the Will to Form, 2012, http://vimeo.com/80025507
It was a very nice meeting in the Glass Virus at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. I was there as a participant from Japan, and I was very excited to listen to the people from many countries. Many topics and issues we discussed there were very similar or the same one that we have now in Japan, and I am glad to make a report to Japanese glass educators.
This is supposed to be a essay about the topics in Glass Virus, but I think other participants will give better descriptions on each topic, so I will talk about the Japanese glass art education and Toyama to give some information, instead.
We have an organization of glass art educators in Japan, GEN (Glass Education Network). We gather annually to talk about the future of Japanese glass, to exchange information and to plan the new activities to support the young generations of glass artists. Originally we started GEN to introduce the Japanese glass scene at the GAS Conference in Seto, Japan in 1998. We have noticed the advantage of this organization to make the glass art more popular in Japan, and we have been keeping a good relationship with each other since then. We made several exhibitions for glass artists, and the GEN Students Exhibition has been held every year in Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Students from almost all the schools in GEN participate and show their work together, and this is one of the biggest glass exhibitions in Japan.
The school where I am teaching now is Toyama City Institute of Glass Art, which was established in 1991 as the first and only public educational institution specializing in glass art, in Japan. When we started TIGA we had only 3 schools where students could study glass, but now around 20 schools joined the GEN. This is a big change in the history of Japanese glass to have such number of educational institutions, departments and courses since the studio glass movements came into Japan. I think the biggest fruit of the studio glass movements in Japan is that we put the glass into art education system. And this GEN works as an organization and/or think tank similar to the Glass Virus. I have taken the topics and issues that we discussed back to Japan and I would like to talk with teachers in Japan this year. Hopefully I will make a report of it and bring it to the next Glass Virus meeting.
Now I will talk about TIGA and Toyama City. Toyama City Institute of Glass Art (TIGA) has started in [the Glass Art City, Toyama] in April 1991 as the first public educational institution specializing in glass. We have had students from all over the world who are fascinated in glass art, and they studied glass art in well-equipped circumstances to be glass artists. Now they are working in many fields, such as independent artists, as studio staff, as teachers in art schools and as designers. We have been offering two glass programs in main, to study the basics of glass and art foundation in Glass Certification Studies (G.C.S). and to research in advanced level of glass art in the Advanced Research Studies (A.R.S.). Each program is two years long.
Now we have the Visiting Scholar Program for 3 months, the Artist In Residence Program for 60 days and the Students Exchange Program for 3 months. (For further information, please visit http://toyamaglass.ac.jp)
We think it is important to have international relationship in school, that’s why we have several ways to exchange/accept foreign students. I have noticed that the students who studied under exchange program (we have done with the Australian National University and the Academy of Arts Architecture & Design in Prague) could develop their ideas and skills a lot with their experience of studying abroad. And he/she gave a good influence to the other students, too. I am hoping that we have opportunities to extend the student exchange program with other schools.
Also we have been inviting two teachers from outside of Japan since we established the school, one to teach cold-working and one to teach hot-working. They bring a lot of international information into TIGA, and it makes a big advantage of study here. Of course there are sometimes several problems to solve because each school has different systems to study, still it is worth it to do it not only for one student but also for all TIGA students.
Toyama City, as part of the Toyama City Total Planning Project, has begun “The Support of Creation of a New Art and Culture” and has been working hard to create a supportive structure and community for glass artists to work within. This is the focus of “the Glass Art City, Toyama.” As part of this plan, the city has developed the Toyama Glass Studio that is comprised of an individual studio, a rental studio, and a studio for a rotating artist in residence. And now the Toyama City Museum of Glass Art is under development and is scheduled to be completed in 2016. Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma, the museum aims to be a work of art in itself.
Toyama City is fully dedicated to the expansion and inclusion of glass art in society in Japan, and hopes to not just be a city with glass production but a city where glass makers from around the world will gather, share, and take glass art into the future. Toyama will be an international hub of glass art production.
Finally, as I said many topics and issues we discussed in Glass Virus were very similar or the same one that we have now in Japan, and I am hoping to bring them to next Glass Virus meeting from Japan.
Glass artists / Artists working with glass – Semantics or identity issue?
The topic headline may be viewed as a mere technical definition; -where the glass artist is understood as someone with special skills and preference for the material in question, whereas the artist working with glass is seen as an artist whose work and choice of material normally differs. If so, musing on why’s and if’s become irrelevant but for the linguists. Of interest are why the terms have been cornered, if they might be understood related to identity issues, and how they may show the possibility of a schism amongst the abundant and diverse crowd that constitute the glass world.
It is intriguing how one can pick up the minutiae of bickering from the parties falling within the different spectre of the topic categories. A rather derogatory slant on the viewing of the other seems to be at play. Can it be that one party in question invests too much reverence in regard to the argued material, - the other possibly too little? Talking to young glass artists in making, they come in types of either making half-embarrassed excuses for the material they have chosen, or adoring it with fervour. One takes little pride in the material and the world that surrounds it, - the other cherishing it a wee too much.
No entity, neither in form nor function, can be without a definition of sort. When something - or anything - gets defined, it finds its place. Identity is about that place. The importance of a strong identity will always be connected to the enablement of being the one to shape, and staying in command of, its own definition. As follows, a poorly defined identity will be at the mercy of having its definition made by others.
An ill-defined and fuzzy-edged glass art scene, will invariably and unfailingly end up having to deal with identity issues related to existence, content and direction. The bigger the issues, the clearer the image appears of an entity unsteadily tottering along a nonspecific path to oblivion, while waiting for someone else to define who and what it is. Someone else may here be viewed as including both the broader contemporary art scene and the public to which one is reaching out. And that can’t possibly be a fighting-spirited material worthy.
Is the enormous diversity and broad spectre of expression currently to be seen within the term glass art, a weakness? This diversity is obviously not positive or negative in substance, but is like most things perpetually changeable according to the context it reads and understands itself, and is being red and understood by others.
Do we within the diversity of the moment see the contours of a schism, which until defined, identified and debated, will hamper energy necessary to move forward or cover new ground?
1The importance of all things signature has been an integral part of our cultural fabric since Gilgamesh, in need of naming a sense of self - and thereby self’s boundaries, wrote his name on the mountain. When does self stop being self, and becomes first we, then others? A main area to be addressed within the glass art scene, or glass community if one wants to be charitable, is not what glass art is but rather what glass art can also be.
Identity and definition challenges are of course commonplace across different artistic disciplines. Some of those the glass world do chare. But there are also areas around identity, function and significance only applicable to the specific nature of the existing glass scene. A long-going debate we do have in common with the contemporary art scene at large, is centred on what appear to be the dated and obsolete boxing system still claimed as valid, on how to define and categorize the different artistic forms and expressions.
The glass art scene is albeit a young one. Where most of the material based art forms already for quite a time have heaved and roared against the constraint of their own substance, glass is still in its infancy as to mapping its edges and defining its boundaries. The common glue so far as to identification, coherency and limits has been the material used. Is that enough? And is this necessarily the best served or most accurate way of categorizing the field?
Is it relevant within the contemporary reality to which we belong, letting a specific material being the determinable factor as to where a piece of work/project/artist belongs or will find common ground? Or is this way of identifying an artistic subject matter, just from the nature of the time and the beast, bound to cause an eruption along the line? What alternative options of identifying an entity might there be?
Could one equally correct, make the division whereby the intention of the work defines the place into the larger system of which the work adhere? Are décor and material, concept and the Meta world, in its utilisation, possibilities and core-being, compatible? Or how does one make them?
The critical-reflective angle needed in own work, also includes the context by which one owns work is rendered readable. No context, - no valid critical reflection. The context, or backdrop, we measure our artistic credibility against, will always be the peers of the world we think we merit belonging to or be a part of. To be a desired part of anyone’s context, our material and its minions need to offer a credible world in which anyone wants to be measured.
As mentioned, glass art is not the only art entity with an identity-challenge stalking the shadows. When it comes to what the glass world choose to call that animal, I really don’t care, as long as we may agree it being an animal in need of naming.
Ine Harrang, Amsterdam, 15th of March 2014, in response to subject on the agenda, The Glass Virus Think Tank seminar, February 2014
The material of Glass is worthless, a body, but clearly not without a soul and from the origin of sand: meaningless. In my opinion the Glassfield has now in 2014 ended up in a bubble of new consciousness. There’s the local, so called folklore mentality to explore the manual object, the behaviors, and also the mental illness, to ignore strangers and to express their own glorified feelings of love to the materialization of Art, or even helpfulness: there are so beloved Art feelings. What will happen if the American Artist Matthew Barney is asked by the ‘Glassworld’ to have the opportunity of working for himself? That’s the main question about techniques as well as related questions. Let’s imagine what emerges from these kinds of invitations. Or at the same time we have to realize:
’Why are the artists like Matthew Barney not involved with the actual Glassworld’? We also shouldn’t forget the Italian artist Luciano Fabro about his point of view, but I suggested he was very well involved with the importance of this question. He said throughout his life and work: ‘The material is in transmigration’.
This is to me a creative sense of awareness. But over the whole scene, there is a new feeling of artificial meaning and the strength to develop a new sense of quality. In this worldwide connecting wave of the Glassfield in 2014, there the wish and willingness to get away from a connection of horizontal mentality, and to have a new brave opportunity, the appreciation of craftsmanship for a and superb artificial exclamation. This origin question, how to develop the real Art piece itself, is the main thing.
Prof. Peter Otto (independent Artist) currently Head of the Department of Ceramics and Glass Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, BRD
Every person working in the field of education should write a statement of teaching philosophy. The statement does not only work as a self-evaluation method for the teacher but also as a way of creating more open, honest and considered education in the creative field. In addition, it can be a part of developing the field to be more understandable instead of an ambiguous field of study that people outside the creative arena do not really comprehend.
What is a statement of teaching philosophy?
The statement of teaching philosophy is a text written by a prospective educator or a person working in education, describing their view on teaching and their goals in education. It can vary in length from one to two pages and often the tone is personal, written in first person, often including examples of teaching strategies, assignments and exercises to illustrate the actual teaching practice.
Sometimes, but not always, a statement of teaching philosophy is required when applying to teaching positions and occasionally when reviewing and evaluating a practicing teacher. Even more rarely a teacher is asked to keep this statement up to date and present it on an annual basis.
There is a lot of debate whether the statement is necessary or not – especially in hiring processes and job applications. Professors argue that it might be premature to ask a teaching job applicant to write this kind of statement when they have not even started teaching.
No proper criteria of the statement are established. Many professors evaluating the statements of prospective faculty members say that it is difficult to describe what is a good or a bad statement but they know when they see one.
Requiring a statement in the hiring process, regardless the teaching position being for a professor or a part-time lecturer, shows that the institution is serious about the quality of teaching and not simply filling in numbers in the faculty. Especially in the creative fields hiring high-profile names who might not know anything about teaching is far too common. The statement of teaching philosophy definitely shows who is serious about teaching and has evaluated their own teaching practice – and who has not done that.
While the statement is not always required, and many teachers in the creative fields never have to write one, it is certainly a useful process to go through. And while there is dispute about the usefulness of them in the job application process, the academics do agree that a teacher should write one – even if only to serve as a self-reflection tool.
Good artist vs. good educator
A good and established artist does not necessarily make a good educator; education and working in the creative field require different skillsets. Regardless of the teacher’s other professions, when teaching he or she is first and foremost an educator, not an artist, not a maker, not an academic. It is a shame that in the creative field it is fairly common to have artists in education who do teaching as a way to support their artistic practice financially. It is possible to be both a great educator and an established artist. However, not every creative professional is able to be a good teacher as well.
The teacher has a huge impact on the student that often carries well beyond the actual time spent studying. The time spent in an institution is not solely about learning but also about understanding, experiencing and seeing the bigger picture – where the views, beliefs and motives of the teacher play a significant role. The choices of what the teacher decides to include and exclude in the teaching, and how different issues are portrayed and taught shape the student’s future. This is why the statement of teaching philosophy is absolutely necessary: to describe what, why and how the teacher is teaching and maybe even more importantly: what, why and how he or she is not teaching. This information has to be shared with the student – after all, it is the student’s future that is in question.
The statement as a mean of transparency and honesty
We live in the time of sharing information, where openness and transparency are encouraged in all of the aspects of life. Education in institutions is evaluated annually by external sources but also by the institutions themselves, students give feedback about the education and their teachers, and write reflective plans about their goals and strategies in attending especially higher education.
Institutions, schools and departments have their own goals and strategies outlined and often made public, while the goals and strategies of the single teacher are something more ambiguous, especially in the creative field. How does the teacher follow the syllabus of a particular study programme or department goals? How does he or she teach? What they wish to achieve through teaching? Are they effective in their teaching practice?
Every teacher has his or her own beliefs and understanding of good teaching. Whilst one is a firm supporter of hands-on learning the other can place more emphasis on the importance of learning theory. There are radical differences between different teachers.
In this light it seems ridiculous that statements of teaching philosophy are not made widely available and required from the educators. Some practicing teachers publish their statements online – either on their own websites or as a part of their profile on the institution’s website. However, they are far less common than artist’s statements.
Institutions should not only ask for statements of teaching philosophy but they should also provide this information for the public. This would enable the prospective students to understand more about the particular study programme they might be applying to and help them choose the right institution and the teachers that best support their goals in education.
While it is true that a statement of one’s teaching philosophy is not the whole truth to an educator’s views, goals and practice it does give an indication. It shows if an educator is serious about teaching and truly cares about the future of the student. It outlines how the teacher sees the field thus encouraging not only the student but also the field to develop and create a more honest and transparent future.
Montell, Gabriella. 2003. What’s Your Philosophy on Teaching, and Does it Matter? The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27th 2003. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Whats-Your-Philosophy-on-T/45132/, 12.3.2014.
Statement of Teaching Philosophy, n.d. Retrieved from http://www.teaching.utoronto.ca/topics/documenting-teaching/s-t-p.htm, 12.3.2014.
Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement, n.d. Retrieved from http://ucat.osu.edu/read/teaching-portfolio/philosophy, 12.3.2014.