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Tuesday September 21, 2021 | by UrbanGlass Staff

Spring 2021 Pratt Independent Study

Community is the crux of glass. That is one of the first things new students learn when they enter UrbanGlass. Our educational programs invite students to become part of a skilled, generous, and energizing fellowship of people exploring the wondrous nature of this material and sharing it with others. Glass sparks the inspiration of anyone who finds it, and we delight in supporting students wishing to stick around long after their first class is over. This magnetic tendency is especially common among our Pratt alumni. Many graduates of the Pratt survey course have gone on to become our colleagues; progressing from student to intern, technician, teacher, art center assistant, full time staff, or some combination thereof.

Last spring we had the pleasure of hosting two Pratt students, Marie Møeller Joergensen and Michelle Bayat for a semester of Independent Study. Marie (MFA - Fine Art/Sculpture, 2nd Year) and Michelle (BFA - Architecture, 5th Year) were among the first group of students to return for in-person learning at UrbanGlass following the city-wide lockdown, so they were already familiar with the material. The fall 2020 survey course introduced them to a broad range of techniques that stirred an instant connection to glass for both artists. To continue their studies, Marie and Michelle successfully petitioned the Pratt administration to enroll in a for-credit Independent Study course. This allowed them to return in the spring for self-directed studio time under the guidance of longtime Pratt instructor Jane Bruce. 

Rather than working within the framework of a teacher’s curriculum, the Independent Study model gives students the freedom to shape their own program. Both students submitted a project proposal explaining what they wanted to do and why, and spent the semester working towards those goals. The studio atmosphere heading into last spring was becoming much lighter compared to the newness and nerves of the fall. This meant that the students themselves were much more at ease, and that they were finally enjoying the inspirational and vibrant energy of sharing the studio space with our full rental community. “You can see more of the daily life of UrbanGlass," Marie said, "more than you could in the [fall] when [the studio] was restricted to only Pratt students.”

Both students anchored their studies in kilnforming processes and included their work in their final thesis shows. Marie’s body of work was born out of a fascination with the transparent quality of glass. Working with glass doubles of found objects, she created kilncast sculptures that mix glass with ceramic and metal, transforming the original’s perceived meaning and subverting its societal value. Similarly, Michelle’s work called into question conventional societal expectations that she thinks stifle architectural design. Wondering if architecture can be used to emotionally heal people, Michelle's research resulted in numerous fusing experiments and color samples exploring light through an architectural lens. 

Pratt classes at UrbanGlass provide a unique opportunity for students to understand and investigate a ubiquitous material that doesn’t hold space in common knowledge. This partnership allowed Marie and Michelle to pursue their curiosity and ideas, and in doing so it gave them the chance to stand apart from peers who use materials like acrylic and resin only because glass is missing from their lexicons. We’re thrilled that Marie and Michelle were able to continue their explorations through Independent Study, and we loved seeing their ideas develop. While we look forward to resuming our programming with Pratt and welcoming new students, we delight in the bonds we keep with our amazing community of former students (and colleagues!).