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