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Category: Teens

Contemporary Conversations: Lino Tagliapietra

The Artist

Lino Tagliapietra is one of the greatest glass makers alive today. Growing up in Murano, Italy, and achieving the title of maestro (glass master) at the age of twenty, Tagliapietra is known around the world for his various achievements, not only in glass but in life as well. Due to the poor economy in Murano, many young boys and girls would turn to the glass factories as a way to earn for their families; hence, he began learning his craft at the early age of twelve. When asked to describe what life was like growing up in Murano, Lino begins to reminisce:

“[We have] the war in Spain, we have [the] war in Libya, and we have the war in Africa, and we lived with the war I remember. Then we have the second war…we have the Fascists…we have the Nazi. We have the Deutch (German) people, and then we have the American, English. So in Murano, we are surrounded in a sort of way. In one way we are protected, more than Venice. But still there we had somebody die. Somebody who the Nazis thought was a Jew, meaning they went to a camp…and never came back. And even still, living in Murano is a wonderful experience if you like it. [On] the island, we had 6,000 people [when I was growing up], now we have 6,000 people and maybe 7,000 workers. Many, many people. Now [we’ve gone] a little bit down. I think we are probably 5,000 people, but those 6,000 people had to work. They had very, very little money, much less. If you work…in the glass community, you would make maybe $400 – $800. Besides that, Murano is a wonderful island, I like the small island with [the] small village, [because] everybody knows you. We have created quite a few differences between Venice and ourselves because of the war. We have less pollution, it’s possible to play in the water, possible to go in the lagoon and catch the fish. We have a wonderful life, for some reason. We are poor. The shoes, we only have them sometimes, but we play without shoes. We don’t have a pool, but when we [were] kids they put us in the canal. I think there’s no place in the world like Murano, it’s so beautiful.”

For some, the culture shock between Italy and America would create a difficult challenge when adjusting to the lifestyle. For Tagliapietra, he feels his move to America was relatively easy:

“Because I have curiosity…I feel very comfortable in America. In the island, for example, if you aren’t a master, a good master – okay, not necessarily the top – but everybody thinks: ‘Good master, man!’, you know? So a ‘master’ is something ordinary in many ways and they sort of brush you aside. But in America, everybody respects you. They greet you in a very nice way and then you feel so comfortable, and then the American spirit is possible, trying everything you want. I like it because [once] I came to America I [no longer had to] do production, I [could] do what I [wanted] to do… It is a good feeling.”

The Process

Before starting any glassmaking project, one must be equipped with the proper team. Lino Tagliapietra’s team consists of about 25 people, both men, and women, who love glass. The youngest, according to Tagliapietra, has been working for “maybe 9 years,” but nobody would truly know as the group is constantly working together. Their teamwork boils down to their love of glass – their passion for the craft. Little is actually spoken during the process; instead, Tagliapietra and his team communicate with their hands and movements. When someone does speak, it means they are on the right track: simple words to keep everyone on the same page. Tagliapietra speaks very highly of his team of “wonderful glassblowers.” He finishes his statement on the relationship of his team by telling us, “it’s very important to have the right team. The team, for me, is about being surrounded by people who share the same love.” These words speak volumes, reminding us of how important community and teamwork truly is.

When asked if he could summarize the glass making process in a few sentences, we Muses received a chuckle from the maestro and a doubtful “I will try.” He began to summarize:

“Perhaps the most important part of the glass blowing process is having a clear picture of what you want to make: what form you want, how much color, designs with canes—colored ‘canes’ of glass—or without. There are many factors and decisions that need to be addressed before the glass blowing process even begins. After a clear picture has been envisioned, the next step is to start.”

Once Tagliapietra has chosen his design, the process is very simple; his knowledge of glass blowing makes the entire process look ridiculously easy.

As the maestro of glass blowing, we were all very interested to learn whether Mr. Tagliapietra had ever worked with other materials. His response—perhaps not too surprising to some—was that he has never strayed far from glass. He has dabbled in working with clay and admitted to liking the material, but it was “certainly not glass.” Most interestingly, Tagliapietra likes to cook. He says it is the only other “art” he works with well. His ultimate response was, “Normally, I am a very, very monoculture artist. I blow glass. I do not do anything else. Sometimes I do something, but it is best not to because I know glass and it is my profession.”

Taking a look around a room filled with Lino Tagliapietra’s work is breathtaking. Every piece has its own story to tell and each story possesses its own challenges. While Tagliapietra makes glassblowing look simple to the average person, he demonstrated that every piece of his work holds different levels of difficulty. “Just because a piece looks simple doesn’t mean it was easy,” he explained. When asked if he could pick his most complex work, Tagliapietra chose the Spirale. The Spirale is an oblong glass piece with a seemingly impossible helix design at its core. He proceeded to emphasize its complexity even more, explaining that he could not make a single mistake during the creative process. For instance, when blowing out the design, he could not afford to blow too much or too little; the result would have been disastrously out of proportion. Exactness, precision, and patience are key ingredients for any piece of his work.

Legacy

Our time with Lino Tagliapietra has come to an end. We learned much about both the artist and glassblowing itself through his profound words. But we still had one final question to ask: “What would you say to young people today who are interested in glass blowing but fear they won’t be successful?” Perhaps this was the best question to draw our time with the artist to a close.

“We have a lot of people, young people that want to blow glass, and they want to be successful as well. If you want to blow glass, you must love the material, and you must be very dedicated. Normally, that means you don’t do anything else; you must be open, and work every single day. The important thing is to love what you are doing and to have patience. Find very good teachers and good luck. You know, the material is so fantastic, but I’m probably lucky because the only thing I ever did was blow glass. There is a certain joy when you’re working with a material you love.”

Tagliapietra often reiterates how important art is to his life. Whether in naming a work of art after the places he loves, or taking inspiration from the world around him, he continuously lives, thinks, and breathes the love he has for his craft. He stands firmly in his conviction that art is not just something you do, but it is what you live. It requires dedication, patience, and hard work, but if you have a passion, pursue it to the fullest, and do not stop until it is yours. It is easy to see that he lives by those words prophetically.

Join us for Flimp!

GREENWe are hard at work gearing up for the 27th annual Flimp Festival to be held Saturday, May 7, on the Museum grounds. Our theme this year is Picture Yourself at Flimp. Over 300 artists will be participating in the Chalk Art Competition, working around the concept of portraits. We can’t wait to see how they design and execute their squares! The Museum is grateful to our many chalk art sponsors, but we are still looking for more. If you’re interested in sponsoring a square, please call Alice Novak at 334.240.4362.

FlimpBlog#5.2015.0004The Do-Dah Pet Parade will kick off at 10:30 A.M. led by the Booker T. Washington Magnet High School Brass Band. You can pre-register your pet online at www.mmfa.org or on Saturday starting at 10 A.M. There will be lots of prizes for best costumes courtesy of Petland, so make sure to dress up your furry friends for a chance to win! We are excited to be working with the Humane Society of Montgomery again this year and will have shelter dogs on site that are available for adoption.

Flimp Blog#1.2014.0022BTW students will be performing across two stages throughout the day. Performances will begin at 10 A.M. and end at 2 P.M. with new acts every 45 minutes. The students will also be manning a face-painting tent in the circle drive.

FlimpBlog#42012.0098Winfred Hawkins and Stephen Davis will be leading hands-on art activities as our demonstrating artists outside. Our studios will be full of fun projects and hat making will occur in the Orientation Circle. Be sure to sit in on a drum circle with Dave Holland in the Lowder Gallery and explore portraits from the Museum’s permanent collection via the Treasure Hunt starting in the Rotunda.

We are excited to be working with the Clean City Commission again this year for Funky Junk creating art from found and recycled objects. Family Sunshine Center will be here with their beautiful and unique birdhouses on display in the Rotunda. The Montgomery Advertiser will be on the grounds with selfie sticks taking candid shots with the attendees to stream live on their website throughout the day. We are thrilled that Nancy’s Italian Ice will be back and are happy to announce That’s My Dog will be providing the concessions for the day. So make sure to stop by the hot dog stand for your lunch and have Italian Ice for dessert!

FlimpBlog#2.2014.0054The Museum is grateful for the help of Bluewater Broadcasting, LLC, Cumulus Broadcasting, The Montgomery Advertiser, River Region Magazine, Parents Magazine, WSFA-TV, The Alabama News Network, and American Klassic Designs. We also want to thank the BTW teachers and students for their partnership in this event and our Museum volunteers and docents without whom this event would not be possible.

See you May 7th!

Blake Rosen
Special Events Coordinator

The Flimp Festival Draws in a Record-Breaking Crowd

FlimpartsandcraftsLast Saturday, May 2, proved to be one of the most memorable dates in the Flimp Festival’s history. When everyone arrived at Blount Cultural Park, the friendly faces of the Booker T. Washington Magnet High School teachers, students, and Museum staff greeted them. This accompanied by great weather made it a perfect setting for our 2700 guests.

The annual event kicked off at 10 A.M. with registration for the Do-Dah Parade. This year, we had nearly 50 people and their dogs dressed in costumes marching to the tune of “When the Saints go Marching In,” led by BTW’s jazz band. At the end of the parade, three lucky winners received awards for the best ensembles. The Montgomery Humane Society also brought in 10 dogs in hopes of finding them permanent homes.FlimpDo-Dah

FlimpChalkartOur Sidewalk Chalk Art competition was another main attraction at the Festival. The MMFA used the theme “Montgomery: The Past, Present and Future.” There were more than 70 entries in the student and adult categories. What a fantastic display of talent!

The arts and crafts proved to be the most popular of all. Visitors got a chance to make hats, get their faces painted, create creatures like ladybugs with clay, or shape copper into jewelry. Dave Holland, a non-traditional artist and musician, received rave reviews after encouraging the audience to be a part of his percussion session.

Voices of BTW’s choir and the music from the school’s band could be heard throughout the Blount Cultural Park. As the Flimp Festival came to an end, we saw many families taking pictures capturing memories of another great year at the MMFA.Flimpband

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

 

With African Art, the MMFA Welcomes a New Era in Collecting

EV.jazz.African.blogThe Museum celebrated a new collection and a new era in collecting with a series of events held between Thursday, October 23 and Sunday, October 26. The many participants over the three-day event were given a sense of the importance of the African acquisitions that are new to both the Museum and to the community.

On Thursday evening the Museum hosted a lecture by Professor Robin Poynor, a member of the faculty in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida. Professor Poynor discussed the roles playedEV.African.Poynor.blog by these newly acquired objects of African art in the lives of those who lived in traditional African societies. He showed many of the Museum’s woodcarvings, weavings, ceramics, and metal objects in the context of their use through photography depicting homes, communities, and public performances.   For the past year, Professor Poynor has served as the Museum’s consulting curator to select works of art for the collection, and to provide information and scholarship relative to their acquisition. He worked closely with the donors and with the Museum staff to create the exhibition Art for Life’s Sake: An African Collection for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

EV.African.Dileep.blogThe weekend events also included a Friday lunchtime presentation for the Museum’s Collectors Society that featured the collector and donor of the African art acquired as a gift by the Museum—Dileep Mehta of Atlanta, Georgia. As a professor of finance, Dr. Mehta traveled extensively, and worked over a period of many years to build his collection of African materials. On Sunday, the Museum hosted a combination Family Day for African Art, a Jazz Jams featuring the Jazz students in the program at BTW, as well as a EV.African.BTWdance.blogperformance by the BTW Dance Theater, Out of Africa. There were hands-on activities in the studios, artist’s demonstrations, and tours of the new African collection for the public.

This exciting weekend of programs caps off a season of exploration for our staff, docents, and public as we learned more about the wonderful objects that have now found a home in Montgomery. We look forward to sharing them often with our audiences.EV.African.HomerJ.blog

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

View highlights of the African Family Day here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAS-stIY540&list=UUr4m6_kMNuu97FChx2L00sA

 

 

 

BTW Word and Image

btw_readingLast night the Museum was proud to host young writers from Booker T. Washington Magnet High for a reading “Word and Image.”  Each work of prose and poetry was composed in response to a work of art on display at the Museum.  Led by Mr. Foster Dickson, the expressions were a result of the annual Ekphrastic writing workshop at the Museum.  Ekphrasis means a literary response to a work of art.

Selections from the student work include:

1995.7.2.blogFrom “Descending Night” by Somer Marshall
She was more than she could understand.
She was capable of more than her untrusting heart
Allowed her, she was beyond compare.


Adolph Alexander Weinman, Descending Night
1995.7.2

1935.12_blogFrom “Cotton Gin” by Ke’Veonia Hall
This cotton gin can satisfy plenty
And also avoid a lot of mayhem
Keeping Whitney from turning over in his grave

John Kelly Fitzpatrick, Cotton Gin
Gift of Works Progress Administration, 1935.12

 

 

2008.5_blogFrom “Thoughts Inside a Cocoon of Bones” by Keandra Pope
I turned into a cave of myself
Amber-colored walls kept up to keep out
Each limb turned into a lock

Rick Beck, Self Portrait
Gift of MMFA Patrons*, 2008.5

 

Alice Novak
Assistant Curator of Education

* Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, Bowen and Carol Ballard, Jim and Jane Barganier, John and Joyce Caddell, Dorothy Cameron, Ben and Virginia Cumbus, Elizabeth Emmet, Bonner and Virginia Engelhardt, Bob and Susan Geddie, Barrie and Laura Harmon, Camille Elebash-Hill and Inge Hill, Paul and Anne Hubbert, Charles and Donna Ingalls, Michael and Allison Ingram, Mike and Kent Jenkins, Mark and Amy Johnson, Joan and James Loeb, James and Margaret Lowder, Michael and Laura Luckett, Alfred Newman, Phillip and Gloria Rawlings, Bruce and Emilie Reid, Adam and Dawn Schloss, James E. Sellars, Charles and Winifred Stakely, Andy and Lisa Weil, Jean Weil, Barry and Corinna Wilson, Drs. Tommy Wool and Laurie Weil and Anonymous Donor

An Expressive Evening and ARTWORKS Corridor Student Recognition

Expressive Evening 5 Expressive Evening 6 Expressive Evening 4 Expressive Evening 3 Expressive Evening 2 Expressive Evening 1On Tuesday night, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts was rich with vivid colors and sounds and truly felt like the home of the Muses.  The Museum’s teen council – the MUSES –  did a fantastic job organizing “An Expressive Evening”, featuring student singers, dancers, musicians, and visual artists.  Following inspiring performances in the auditorium and rotunda, student artists from kindergarten to 12th grade were recognized for their works on view in the juried ARTWORKS Corridor exhibition Inspired by Nature.  The student exhibition is based on Nature Distilled, on view in the Weil Print Room.

– Museum Educators

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