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Mutsumi Hagiwara's Artistic Journey|Discovering the Intricacies of Glass Art

2024.06.28
INTERVIEW

Mutsumi Hagiwara

Glass, a material celebrated for its transparency and versatile workability, has evolved countless times throughout history. From ancient times to the present, glass has played a crucial role in human history and the pursuit of beauty, offering artists new horizons of expression through its inherent beauty and plasticity.

Mutsumi Hagiwara, a graduate student specializing in glass making at Tokyo University of the Arts, is an artist dedicated to "retaining memories" through glass, a medium cherished by humans since antiquity. Her creations feature captivating color transitions reminiscent of the changing sky. In this feature, we explore Hagiwara's enchanting world of light, color, and form encapsulated within transparent crystals, accompanied by an insightful interview with the artist.

 

Works Inquiry

 

Mutsumi Hagiwara's Artistic Theme: Remembering

Mutsumi Hagiwara

The morning glow heralds the start of a new day, the crimson hues paint the sky on the way home, and the ever-changing colors of the waves ebb and flow. These delicate color transitions, evoking a sense of transience, are hallmarks of Hagiwara's glass works. Mutsumi Hagiwara seeks to preserve memories in her creations, utilizing glass, photography, and words, and shaping them into vessels to encapsulate these fleeting moments.


-Why do you choose "remembering" as the theme of your work?

Mutsumi Hagiwara : For me, "memories of the past" are the support and source of life in the "present". However, invisible memories and feelings fade away with time. By recording the inexpressible impressions I receive from nature and the small daily emotions in the form of photographs and words, I can look back on them in difficult times and they support me like a talisman. The small memories become a great encouragement and strength to support my foundation.

Although the object of memory cannot be touched again, the warmth felt in the memory can be incorporated into the form of the glass, and by reproducing the colors that you liked, you can make it exist in the glass as a semi-permanent memory.

I want my works to evoke memories and make you sigh when you see them. This is the greatest encouragement for me, living in the "now" to move toward the "future," which is why I continue to work on the theme of memory.


The Essence of Glass: Mutsumi Hagiwara's Artistic Interpretation

Mutsumi Hagiwara

Mutsumi Hagiwara also creates functional pieces such as food plates, vases, lids, and other utilitarian works. In recent years, amidst the merging realms of art and craft, Hagiwara has embraced "vessels" as a primary form of expression for her artistic world.

- What is the meaning of "vessel" as a form?

Mutsumi Hagiwara : I gravitate towards the vessel shape because I appreciate its sense of purpose, as though it is meant to hold and accumulate something within. I feel a connection to forms that encapsulate time and memory, where the space defined by the vessel's contours delineates a boundary between the external and internal worlds.


Multi-Dimensional Artistic Expression Using "Photography" and "Words”

Mutsumi Hagiwara “Mutsumi Hagiwara: color of the earth” 2024, Whitestone Gallery Karuizawa

Whenever she travels or encounters a poignant scene in her daily life, Hagiwara captures these moments with a film camera. She then translates her mental images into words, integrating them into her glass artworks. In the exhibition "Irreplaceable Earth, Landscape, and Environment" at the Karuizawa New Art Museum, Hagiwara showcases her creative expression beyond glass, exploring other media forms.


- What drives your decision to incorporate not only glass but also "photographs" and "words" into your works?

Mutsumi Hagiwara : It serves as a means to express and communicate memories and emotions through diverse avenues.

Photography offers an objective view of our subjective gaze, often inwardly directed. It enables us to visually share what moves us and what we find beautiful with others, fostering new perspectives and insights.

Words have the capacity to convey non-visual sensations such as air, temperature, and scent through written descriptions. They invite viewers to imagine freely, fostering deeper empathy and comprehension. Words complement sensory information that visual means alone cannot convey, enriching self-expression in nuanced ways.


A Method of Production That Captures Memories

Mutsumi Hagiwara

Firing in a electric furnace

Mutsumi Hagiwara's glass works are crafted using the "pâte de verre" technique. Originating from French, "pâte de verre" translates to "paste of glass powder." This method involves packing a mixture of glass powder and glue into a mold, which is then fired to form the glass. The use of powdered glass results in fine bubbles trapped between the grains, diffusely reflecting light and creating an opaque texture.

Hagiwara enhances her pieces through a polishing process, imparting a delicate, silvered-glass-like texture. The exquisite gradation of colors, shimmering like a veil, evokes the ephemeral nature of memory.


Shifting Hues: The Chemistry of Color in Glass

Mutsumi Hagiwara

What captivates viewers most about Hagiwara's work is the ephemeral yet stunning gradation of colors. These hues are achieved by blending glass powder with metal powder, undergoing a chemical transformation when melted in a high-temperature kiln. The choice of metal and the temperature at which it melts dictate the resulting color palette.

However, this process is delicate, with subtle variations influencing the outcome. Through trial and error in texture and color gradation, numerous setbacks have shaped Hagiwara's current creations, each possessing distinctive colors and textures.

Mutsumi Hagiwara

Removing plaster after kiln firing requires great care, as striking the glass too forcefully can cause it to break.

‐What are some of the most rewarding moments in your artistic process, and what are some of the most challenging?

Mutsumi Hagiwara : Breaking the plaster is a pivotal moment in my process. Until that point, I can't determine if I've succeeded or not. That uncertainty makes every step quite challenging. Even with repeated practice, any compromise can affect the final work, so I strive to avoid compromises altogether. Given that failures outnumber successes, achieving a piece that satisfies me brings immense joy and fulfillment.


Glass as a Medium: Mutsumi Hagiwara's Perspective

Mutsumi Hagiwara “Mutsumi Hagiwara: color of the earth” 2024, Whitestone Gallery Karuizawa

‐ Lastly, please tell us about the relationship between glass and your work.

Mutsumi Hagiwara : I see glass as a medium for shaping the light within my memories. It transforms the intangible into something tangible, allowing me to touch what was once untouchable. Glass, being amorphous at room temperature yet semi-permanent, resonates deeply with my memories. It serves as the ideal medium for capturing and preserving these moments in my artistic expression.

Mutsumi Hagiwara

Mutsumi Hagiwara

Mutsumi Hagiwara captures transient moments through her film camera, imprinting them onto diffusely reflecting glass through the dual lenses of her camera and memory.

Whitestone Gallery Karuizawa proudly presents "Color of the Earth," a solo exhibition by Mutsumi Hagiwara, showcasing from June 29 to August 11, 2024. We invite you to immerse yourself in the vivid hues of the earth as seen through her artistic lens.

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