Thursday, October 18, 2007

InnerViews: Brit Hammer

InnerViews: A Creative Interview with Artist Brit Hammer

Our first InnerView is with Netherlands based Artist, Brit Hammer. Brit is a Norwegian-American glass artist internationally exhibited and recognized for her use of color.

Hello Brit! First of all, let me welcome you to our first session of InnerViews! I want to thank you for agreeing to be our first artist featured!

Thanks so much for inviting me to share my world. :-)

JJLJ: How did you come to work in the medium of glass?

BH: Oh, that's a story that began in childhood and took 25 years to come to fruition! At age 8 I saw glassblowing for the first time and, at age 12, my first glass mosaic. In my teens I saw a lot of stained glass windows during my world travels, and I always loved how they threw the light. Those and other seemingly disconnected events stayed with me, as did my love of architecture, even though I pursued the world of fashion and textile design.

Events transpired that led me to move to Rotterdam in 2000 (on my 31st birthday), and 2 years later I couldn't ignore the call to work with glass anymore. It started with an overwhelming desire to create a glass mosaic titled "Hannah's Rainbow". The desire to create that one piece jump-started an online tile business, which evolved into my own style of creating mosaic "paintings" and then on to designing architectural glass and bespoke glass furniture. Now I see myself heading into environmental design with glass as a starting point. It's exciting!

"Hannah's Rainbow"
© Brit Hammer

JJLJ: What continues to be a source of inspiration for your work?

BH: I'm inspired by light reflection, color, texture, and transparency because together they tell a story. The relationship between these qualities has actually interested me since my school days, and they've tagged along with me like a loyal puppy dog. Now that my focus is evolving from ego-centric (I design for myself) to eco-centric (I design for the environment), I find that I'm able to continue making use of these qualities to help architects and designers create a positive atmosphere that will also be sustainable.

"Life Is Beautiful"
© Brit Hammer

JJLJ: Is there anyone who has played a significant role in your career?

BH: The key for me has actually been the Internet. It's been not only a source of inspiration - by introducing me to others and their work - but has also been a great vehicle for learning. And I mean about a variety of topics! This is why I stand so firmly behind the One Laptop Per Child program. The Internet has made it so easy to communicate with others all around the world in real-time and to learn from each other. We've gained not only knowledge but also compassion. I believe that this is a way to achieve world peace.

JJLJ: What are you currently working on?

BH: I'm spearheading an initiative to make my neighborhood in Rotterdam a happier place for everyone who lives, works, or visits here. We have some solitary trees but not much else except for concrete pavers. So the idea is to add more foliage, ambling paths, and a sculpture garden showcasing works by local artists. (By that I mean artists other than myself.) Also a playground and dog run as well more benches, etc. It should be environmentally regenerative, sustainable, functional, and safe while also creating an idyllic space. That said, the hardest part will be cutting through the red tape! The actual design & creation of it with a local team will be a piece of cake! Aside from that I'm working on plans for a fundraiser for One Laptop Per Child and am spending a fair amount of time speaking with architects to share what I've learned. In my spare time I'm working on a large piece titled "Transcendence".

"Spark of Life"
© Brit Hammer

JJLJ: How do you see your work influencing others?

BH: On a local scale, glass mosaic was a non-entity in the Netherlands when I began offering a selection of tile and giving courses in 2002 . Mosaic was just starting to catch on but using ceramic tile in the style of Gaudi. Now Byzantine style glass tile is easily available in the Netherlands, and lots of mosaic studios have cropped up. Architects and the general public are also starting to take notice. Glass mosaic has even made it into the pop culture here!

On a larger scale, a curator at a well known glass museum told me that she liked my sculptures even though she normally doesn't like mosaic as a medium. So that must mean that mosaic is starting to be viewed in the art circuit as an art form instead of just a "craft". I took it as a great compliment at any rate.

JJLJ: What is the strangest or funniest comment or question you've ever gotten about your work?

BH: Hmm, let's see. I've had "Raw" described as a pizza and "Steel Magnolia" as a snowball and a giant marble. But the best was on Easter this year when the children were excited that "Life is Beautiful" was left behind by the Easter Bunny!

"Steel Magnolia"
© Brit Hammer

JJLJ: What is your idea of personal success?

BH: My goal is to bring joy to people through my work and to somehow show them that they, too, can make a difference. If I can do that for at least one person, then I've succeeded.

JJLJ: Are there any links you would like to share?

BH: There are many, but I'll limit myself to 4:
TED Talks
Tree Hugger
G Living
One Laptop Per Child

JJLJ: Thank you, Brit for contributing to InnerViews. We wish you continued success and look forward to following your career!

For more information on Brit's artwork and architectural installations, please visit her website.