21 Oct

Autonomous Zones BWA Wrocław Główny Gallery 21.10.22 – 29.01.23

Autonomous Zones is the biggest exhibition at BWA Wrocław in 2022, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the international centre for glass art education – Pilchuck Glass School in the United States. Artists from nine countries present glass as a medium tackling contemporary issues and break stereotypical thinking about the material in gallery space, demonstrating what the title autonomous zones are.

Out of the 181 artists who over the last thirty years have participated in one of the most prestigious residency programmes in the world – Emerging Artists in Residence at Pilchuck Glass School – curators Mika Drozdowska (BWA Wrocław), Sarah Traver (Traver Gallery) and Benjamin Wright (Pilchuck Glass School) shortlisted 25 participants in the Autonomous Zones exhibition at BWA Wrocław Główny Gallery. The exhibition shows how space, time and community – fundamental elements of the EAiR programme – influence creative and conceptual processes. The audience will have an opportunity to see an innovative approach to glass presented by artists from the USA, Poland, Japan, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, South Korea, England and Scotland. We will invite viewers to learn about the history of Pilchuck Glass School, the American centre for glass education, in the context of such issues as autonomous zones, countercultural reactions, guerrilla movements and grassroots organizations. The BWA Wrocław Główny exhibition will be divided into parts presenting e.g. new formalism, process orientation, issues relating to the environmental crisis and sexuality.

“Autonomous Zones” are communities and territories whose functioning is based on alternative social and political reality. They are independent and self-governing. Their power comes from the self-actualisation of communities and individuals. They are independent of external, global mechanisms and systemic processes, says curator Mika Drozdowska. In our turbulent and polarised time, autonomous zones are mainly associated with a form of struggle and rebellion. Struggle for freedom, self-determination and respect for every human or non-human being. They are often observed as particular infrastructure, self-made tent cities, but also as mobility itself. They express resistance and persistence. 

Pilchuck Glass School is a good example, with its history of an autonomous space in both the literal and metaphorical sense. A zone isolated from the outside world. A settlement built by its founders in the foothills of the bucolic, wild Cascade Mountains. This is where an alternative community of artists has been formed for years, artists who have not only developed their power and creative potential, but also shared the same values. Pilchuck Glass School is therefore an autonomous zone, additionally offering a sense of belonging to the environment and connection with others.

Within the scope of Autonomous Zones, we will also focus on the word “autonomy” itself – after all, if we follow the reflections of the exhibition’s creators, it may well be something that will save us. Perhaps the necessity to define oneself precisely in the context of such notions as freedom and safety will allow us to understand the superior value of what we call an autonomous zone, wonders Mika Drozdowska.

The exhibition is held under the Honorary Patronage of the President of Wrocław and it is a part of the International Year of Glass 2022 programme.        

  • Artists: Victoria Ahmadizadeh, Kristina Arnold, Marzena Krzemińska-Baluch, Stine Bidstrup, Aesa Bjork, Brian Boldon, Pernille Braun, Sarah Briland, Bri Chesler, Jennifer Crescuillo, Erin Dickson, Matilda Kästel, Namdoo Kim, David King, Rachel Moore, Gracia Nash, Nathaniel Ricciuto, H Schenck, Elisabeth Schubel, April Surgent, Heather Sutherland, Karlyn Sutherland, Matthew Szösz, Thaddeus Wolfe, Mark Zirpel 
  • Curators: Mika Drozdowska, Sarah Traver, Benjamin Wright  
  • Coordination: Agata Połeć  
  • Production: Patrycja Ścisłowska  
  • Networks: Berenika Nikodemska  
  • Promotion: Żaneta Wańczyk  
  • Audience co-operation: Agata Kalinowska  
  • Visual identification: Grupa Projektor  
  • Organizer: BWA Wrocław Galleries of Contemporary Art 
  • Co-organizers: Pilchuck Glass School, Traver Gallery, US Consulate General in Kraków  
  • Honorary Patronage: Mayor of the City of Wrocław
  • Partners: Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Art and Design in Wrocław, American Film Festival  
  • Support: Municipality of Wrocław  
  • Media patrons: Vogue Polska, Wyborcza.pl, TVP Kultura, K MAG, Magazyn SZUM, Akademickie Radio LUZ, Pismo Artystyczne Format, Szkło i Ceramika 
11 Jun

Coburger Glaspreis featured in Glass, The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly No.167

Andrew Page editor of glass wrote:
“The Coburg Prize winners for 2022 show the increasing sophistication of the field

The 2022 Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass shows a maturing field, with artists tackling social issues and concern about the environment. Since it was launched in 1977, the prestigious Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass has only been awarded five times.

Top honors at the 2022 Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass were awarded to Icelandic-born artist Æsa Björk, who is also the founder of the important international art center S12 in Bergen, Norway, Björk won for her 2021 work Fragments, which features two fragile, lens-like disks marked by pâte de verre textures that give the work a distressed and blistered quality. Like an otherworldly artifact of some past trauma, the work was cited by the prize judges as “reminiscent of the Big Bang and the creation of the universe.”

Along with the prestige of winning one of Europe’s top glass honors, the award comes with 15.000 Euro prize. The winning work will be shown along with 90 international artists who made it through the first round of jurying, in an exhibit that will remain on view through September 25, 2022, at the Veste Coburg and at the nearby European Museum of Modern Glass in Rödental, Germany.”

09 Apr

Coburger Glaspreis 2022

Æsa Björk, Fragments 2021, 1st prize, Coburger Glaspreis 2022, Photo: Dieter Ertel

The Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass is Europe’s most important award for contemporary glass art. It is accompanied by an exhibition at the Veste Coburg and in the European Museum for Modern Glas in Rödental. Focusing on new tendencies of glass art,  works by 90 international artists will be shown at these places between 10 April and 25 September 2022. The highly topical objects and the variety of production-techniques make this show a fascinating event in the International Year of Glass 2022.

The first prize, worth 15.000 Euros, went to the Icelandic / Norwegian Æsa Björk. Her work “Fragments”, which consists of two large, convex lenses, is based on a particularly sophisticated manufacturing technique. The fragile pâte de verre texture of the blistered, in some places perforated glass surface, with its silvery sheen and resulting reflections has something magical about it, reminiscent of the Big Bang and the creation of the universe.

The Irish artist Alison Lowry won the second prize of 10.000 Euros for her sculptural group of christening gowns and baby shoes, executed in the most delicate pâte de verre technique. Lowry succeeds in creating a touching memorial to the decades of tragic treatment of illegitimate children in church run mother-and-baby homes in Ireland.

Judith Röder from Germany received the 3rd prize, endowed with 5.000 Euros, for an installation made of superficially antiquated overhead projectors. Discarded window panes serve as projection templates. These seemingly unimportant remnants are impressively recontextualized in the projected image, reminiscent of micro and macro photographs from nature.

Other award winners are Petr Stanický, Czech Republic, who receives the Senior Prize of the Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung (> 45 years, € 5.000), Slovakian Kristína Ligačová, who receives the Prize of the Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung (€ 2.000) and Zuzana Kubelková, Czech Republic, receiving the Prize of the Achilles-Stiftung (< 35 years, € 2.000). The Honorary Prize in memory of Otto Waldrich (€ 2.000, donated by Gertrud Bartelmus) goes to the Swedish artist Ulla Forsell.


Doc Magr. Katarína Beňová, PhD, Curator Slovenská národná galéria, Bratislava

Dr. Sven Hauschke, Director Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg

Maja Heuer, Project leader Unika historiska Kalmar Län

Franz X. Höller, Artist, Zwiesel

Reino Liefkes, Senior Curator Ceramics and Glass, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Anne Vanlatum, Conseiller Artistique, MusVerre, Sars-Poteries

Dr. Verena Wasmuth, Art Consultant, Berlin

Æsa Björks participation in the exhibition was supported by UD / Norwegian Crafts and S12 Galleri og Verksted.

Link to BR television presentation of the Coburger Glaspreis 9. April 2022.