GLASS LIVES INTERVIEW:
Inguna Audere

Inguna Audere in conversation with North Lands Creative Director Karen Phillips.

PROJECT ACTIVITY - Glass Nexus Forum/ Voice of Glass Exhibition 

PARTNER - north lands creative 

YEAR - 2018 / 2021

1. Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to work with glass?

It happened in the 20th century 80ties – Soviet Union time and was unintentional. I was a bit late to discover myself as a creative freedom loving person who wants to become a professional artist. I was suggested to apply to The Glass Processing Department in Riga Applied Art College. Not knowing anything about glass as art except that stained glass panels were popular because of large commission works for Soviet propaganda, I stepped into the unknown. Possible discovery what is behind these official propaganda stories encouraged me to go this path.

2. How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

The subject matter is to visualize subtle thought or a particular mood and to create a relevant atmosphere. I am interested in the phenomena associated with glass and its metaphorical potential. A collaborative approach is at the core of my practice. In collaboration with others one can transcend self and join a collective consciousness. Site-specificity has an essential relationship to my projects.

Ultimately, I want to express a sense of freedom, discovery, and emotional positivity. Mostly I find inspiration for creative work in seemingly mundane events and objects of everyday life. The intention is to increase their meaning by capturing and recording those moments, which then can be transformed into a visual metaphor – an artwork.

Inguna Audere at North Lands Creative Conference, 2018

3. Has there been a shift or change in your life or work that has led to what you're making now?

No. I like new territories, experiments, various approaches, and the possibilities to be found in art. So my work in terms of expression more or less changes all the time.

4. You currently work as a Professor at the Art Academy of Latvia? So how did you come to be there? What's been your career journey?

Yes, I have been a Professor in Glass Art Department in Art Academy of Latvia since 2000. My professional career started with the Independence of Latvia from the USSR. In the middle of the 1990ties, as the old system broke apart new ways and approaches were not yet established. Questions– How to be an artist? What does it mean to be an artist? What to do with that profession? – were sharp and painful. At that time together with other young emerging artists we created the non profit organisation the “Glass Art and Study Centre”. Through this orgaganization we promoted glass art and strengthened the community of glass artists in Latvia as well as abroad. Meanwile changes within the Latvian Art Academy had also started and I was invited to lead the LMA Glass Art Department and had begun establishing the basis for the new LMA Glass Program within the LMA Academy as a whole.

5. How did you get into teaching?

Actually to be a teacher was the worst thing I could imagine happening to me. I had no teaching experience nor did I know how to create academic curriculum. I tried to work with students as I wanted my professors to act when I was a student. I created a program in which traditions were kept and new contemporary approaches were developed. Consulting and guiding students to discover their

strongest talents through an introduction of the wide possibilities of thought and work with glass became attractive to me. From today’s perspective my initially developed approach has proven to be the most interesting and responsible thing to do.

6. Working in education, what does it mean to you?

The added value for being involved in education is having the chance to be a part of talent’s growth, development and adaption into the art world.

Image credit: Imants Kikulis

7. Can you tell us about the department and courses?

The Glass Art Department in Art Academy of Latvia is part of the Visual Plastic Arts Faculty. During the four year BA program students are introduced to various techniques of glass processing. We use not only the glass art department studio available equipment, but also collaborate with other studios, which have glass blowing, waterjet cutting etc. Meanwhile students become familiar with different types of composition in plane and space: topical problem solution in glass painting with respect to plane, creation of functional glass design objects, thematic sculptures, as well as architectural project designs and prototypes. At the MA level a conceptual approach is a priority, from there skills in glass processing have to be developed individually.

8. What other projects might students be able to work on?

There are several exchange programs and networks such as Erasmus, Kuno, Cirrus with other European Art institutions where students can study or practice.

Students often participate in art projects together with their professors. So they get experience in exhibition management, research etc. When one wants to be active and have particular experience in art life, there is available information on a wide range international competitions as well as collaborative projects between disciplines within academy. For example, now young artists organised interesting project “Točka” in abandoned factory in Riga. They get experience and learning by doing. There are several studios – Glassstone memorials, Glass Point, who welcome students to practice their skills in glass processing and social activities.

9. Were there any cultural/artistic/physical challenges during the residencies?Please describe the changes that are being made in education to support the next generation of glass artists.

The most important change has been in turning to a wider understanding of glass – emphasizeing a conceptual research based approach. This demands more responsibility from students to learn and get experience in glass processing individually.

10. How do you benefit from your time teaching and supporting students?

Guiding and supporting students through their new experiences is a non stop brainstorming experiment and a psyhcological adventure.

11. What are the similarities of students from Latvia and the rest of Europe and what are the positive differences?

The difference is in perception and in the way young personalities express themselves. I find these cultural differences fascinating. Mutual understanding takes shape and suddenly they all are nicely similar.

12. How would you define contemporary glass in Latvia at the moment?

We are a small community of active working glass artists. Everyone tries to find their own creative path, which makes the general scene quite diverse conceptually and also technically. Conceptual and poetic approaches in artistic ideas are dominant. Social activities involving glass making techniques has become increasingly relevant.

13. What are your favourite European artists, studios and/ or places?

International glass symposiums in Lviv (Ukraine), Novy Bor (Czech Republic), Panevežys (Lithuania) have played a significant role. Here I have met artists who became good friends, collegues and teachers. I will not name all of them, the list would be long. These meetings encouraged me to organize many international art projects in Latvia and to invite artists to discover Latvia and its culture. The places where I would return definetly would be Scotland’s North Lands Creative and Laugu Klaasikoda glass studio in Saarema, Estonia. I wish to do collaborative projects in Venice, Italy. Amsterdam is place where I would return to many times.

14. You communicate with artists, studios and educators in other European countries. What is the prevailing mood currently?

It is obvious that the world has changed and will continue to change. The current situation asks for innovative, flexible approaches. People have to adapt psychologically, it is a bit confusing, but exciting too, something new begins. 

15. 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?

The role of art in general will be reviewed. Mobility will be more digital and travels will be more selective. The rich diversity of art, design, and craft within glass art is added value. History tells to us that approaches to the use of glass will change not glass art.

Image credit: Imants Kikulis

ARTIST BIO
Inguna Audere

Inguna Audere has been an active Glass Artits for 25 years. She is currently a professor in department of Glass Art at Art Academy of Latvia in Riga where has been engaged from the year 2000. She has founded and led the Glass Art and Study Centre in Riga and for twelve years headed the Department of Glass Art. 

In 2015 she obtained her scientific doctor’s degree studying the development of the Latvian contemporary glass art in the global context. In MA level she teaches contemporary approach in making art where glass plays significant role. In collaboration with local and artists from abroad she has developed idea to include in study program international multidisciplinary courses based on performance art in combination with other art disciplines. 

To improve the collaborative and crossdisciplinarity aspects in the arts and education she has founded the international nonprofit organization “IRMA Collaborative” 

more interviews...