March 2013 Artist-in-Residence: Maria Bang Espersen

Danish artist Maria Bang Espersen seeks to expand the viewer’s perspective through her work in glass. By stretching and bending the molten material, her sculptures show a frozen movement, while the glass retains a soft look.

Espersen studied art history at the University of Aarhus, and glass and ceramics at Engelsholm Højskole, both in Denmark. She has completed additional studies at the Kosta School of Glass in Sweden, The Royal Danish Academy of Design, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. Her work had been included in recent exhibitions including SiO2 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Green in Nexø, Denmark, Process in Hasle, Denmark, and Svanekegaardens Spring Exhibition in Denmark. She has been awarded the International Glass Prize and an Eco Arts Award. In 2011, Espersen worked with GlassLab, the Museum’s design program, assisting international designers in design performances during Art Basel at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany.

In the reheating furnace.

“I have a background that is very traditional for glassblowing,” said Espersen. “I went to school for three years and learned very traditional techniques. I moved to another school where I got all the basics on glass and design. And… I have moved completely away from all of that. I’m trying to go against it now. I’m trying to have an open approach. I’m experimenting with glass.”

Espersen works with assistants to shape hot glass at The Studio

Espersen works with assistants to shape hot glass at The Studio

Using a hammer to create cracks before annealing

Using a hammer to create cracks before annealing

In her March 2013 Residency at The Studio, Espersen explored movement in glass, using three different approaches: the suspension of movement, movement of light, and movement as a concept. With the help of assistants, she created large-scale sculptures based on these approaches.

Maria Bang Espersen

Maria Bang Espersen and a sculpture made during her residency at The Studio

“I question our strongly rooted perceptions of how we understand our surroundings,” says Espersen. “Glass is used for its special qualities, whether they are familiar to us or not, to offer a new perspective. I present glass in ways that often has very little, but at the same time everything, to do with what glass is or can do as a material.”

In a public performance titled air-doings, Espersen explored what happens when glass is blown by the breath of fruit.

air-doings by Maria Bang Espersen


“Air-doings is a very pure interaction between air and glass. I capture a piece of fruit between two layers of hot glass, and because of the air being released by the fruit, it blows up the glass from the inside. It creates these shapes that you cannot achieve at the end of a blowpipe. It becomes something very unique.”

Up next for Esperen is an exhibit at Gallery Rasch, Rønne, Bornholm, Denmark and The International Exhibition of Glass, Kanazawa, Japan this coming fall.

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