GLASS LIVES INTERVIEW:
silvia levenson

Silvia Levenson in conversation with North Lands Creative Director Karen Phillips. Silvia shares an insight in to her creative practice and the journey that led her to becoming a Glass Artist.

PROJECT ACTIVITY - Visiting artist workshop

PARTNER - NORTH LANDS CREATIVE

YEAR - 2018

1. When did you first start working with glass, and how has your making process and work evolved over time?

In 1987 I traveled to NYC and by chance I visited a  show of  Bertil Vallien. I was so touched by his work and I didn’t know that glass could be used for making art. I knew how glass was used in design and craft but not in art. That year I started with a 3 days basic workshop at Creative Glass in Zurich and after that I took a workshop with Antoine Leperlier in Sars Poteries ,France. Until this moment I was painting and making prints, so for the first time I was exploring 3D  and everything was new for me. In the other hand I was in contact with Lani Mac Gregor from Bullseye and she invited me as artist in residence in Portland in 1995. This residency had a big impact in my life.

2. Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to be an artist?

In my case , it was not a decision but happened without thinking. I studied Graphic Design but I was so passionated for painting and drawing.

Silvia Levenson, Group Exhibition “ Unbreakable. Women in Glass"  Murano, in Fondazione Berengo, 2020

3. Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

Usually I start with one idea and when I can visualize it, I read and make research about that, including if other artists are making the objects or installations that I would love to make. After that I start in making. I need to use my hands for understanding in which direction I am moving. Generally I work on series. That means that I work on the same topic for at least 2 years.

4. 2020 has been a significant year, your work focuses on conflicts in families and in society, which has seen much media attention globally, has this, influenced or seen a new focus in your work or the way it is presented?

The increase of violence against women during the lockdown touched me deeply. I printed masks with my pink hand grenades in order to  raise  money for an Association that helps women to recover after suffering violence. We made 3 editions of 100 and it has been a success.

5. Please tell us how you found your time teaching at North Lands during the Visiting Artists workshop ‘Shifting Boundaries?

It was fantastic. I had a group of wonderful artists as students. I enjoyed the fact that all of them arrived from different experiences: ceramic, sculpture, glass. That made the class so exciting and open.

6. What was the concept behind the class?

The concept was to push our boundaries in order to create new works connected to the sense of place and identity

Silvia Levenson 100 Mask Project for You are Not Alone Association

Silvia Levenson, A Kind of Magic, at Punto Sull'Arte Gallery, 2020

7. What do you think you offer to teaching programmes?

In my work I look for a balance between my ideas and the technique. When I teach I share with my students this process. Usually during my workshops we speak about the creative process and how glass can be a medium for exploring what it’s around and inside us and we see lots of images of contemporary artists.

8. How do you benefit from your time teaching students?

Teaching is part of my practice as an artist. For me it is an exchange of experiences and point of views and of course I learn a lot from my students.

9. How have you been during the months of quarantine? How is the artist community in Italy and your native Argentina dealing with this unsettling situation?

I was teaching in Canberra Glass Works when the lockdown started in Italy and it was difficult to come back home. I was lucky because I have the studio where I live and so I was able to work, but I felt sad for all the people suffering around me. At the first moment I was disoriented because a big part of my work is based in traveling: I travel when I exhibit my work and when I teach. But after a while I start to think new strategies and I learn how to use new tools for being in contact with other artists, Schools and students.

 

In Italy artists didn’t have any help from the State and the same is in Argentina. That means that for artists is really hard. The art world is changing and we need to be flexible enough for changing or creating other ways of showing and selling our works.

10. It's great to see glass artists' work being exhibited abroad; can you tell us about your recent/upcoming exhibitions or projects?

It’s strange because at the moment, even if everything is difficult I am showing my work in Italy in three different venues : A Kind of Magic, at Punto Sull’Arte Gallery where I am showing some sculptures and printing connected with the childhood, “No one less” at the Casa Argentina in Rome, where with Natalia Saurin, we show sculptures, installations and videos that speaks about  the violence against women and finally in Murano, in Fondazione Berengo I am showing in the group exhibition “ Unbreakable. Women in Glass”.

Silvia Levenson (left) making in her studio (right) Lock down days photo by Marco Del Comune

Strange Little Girl, Silvia Levenson
Mixed Media, 2020

11. How would you define contemporary glass in Europe?

 

I think that now is a moment of change and evolution for glass in Europe

12. How important is it to you to be making work internationally and with other European organizations and artists?

I think that it’s crucial. Being in contact and interact with artists and organisations from other countries can change and enlarge our vision of our art world.

13. The contemporary glass world is built on mobility: artists and their projects are not subjected to national borders, they travel and work in different countries, and their works are exhibited globally. How do you think the international glass scene will change after this crisis?

Sincerely, I don’t know. Cooperation and sharing  has been the key of the glass world. Maybe we will discover other ways for making that.

Natalia Saurin and Silvia Levenson “No one less” at the Casa Argentina in Rome 2020

Natalia Saurin and Silvia Levenson “No one less” at the Casa Argentina in Rome 2020

Something Wrong, by Silvia Levenson
Kiln Formed Glass

Teatime is Back, 2019 by Alexandra Silvia Levenson
Kiln Formed Glass,
Photo by Marco Del Comune

ARTIST BIO
SILVIA LEVENSON

Born in Argentina, Silvia Levenson has been living in Italy since 1981.   In her work, she explores the unspeakable space located between what we can see and what lies beneath. She uses glass in her installations and sculptures as a narrative lens, focusing on conflicts in families and in society.

 

Her work has been exhibited around the world and is a part of several public collections like The Corning Museum of Glass: New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fè; Fine Art Museum of Houston, Alexander  Tutsek-Stiftung, Germany, Toledo Museum of Art, Racine Art Museum, Museo del Vetro di Murano, Venezia, Museo del Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy between others.

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