Friday July 15, 2016 | by Sarah Canny

OPENING: “Strike While the Iron’s Hot” with newly minted Dr. Richard Meitner

FILED UNDER: Exhibition, New Work, News, Opening

Richard Meitner's "thesis exhibition" just opened in the Gallery at the University of Lisboa, where he has been a visiting professor since 2008. His employer is also now his alma mater, thanks to Meitner's pursuit of a doctorate in glass. In his PhD exhibition, Meitner "sets out to define what he believes art really is and is about, and how we should be teaching it and thinking about it", as he explained in an email exchange with the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet. It's Meitner's personal belief that there are "quite a few glaring and highly consequential mistakes in how we currently think about and discuss art, and how we teach young people what art is and how to make it". The exhibition is tied in with his thesis for his newly achieved doctorate in art, specifically focused, unsurprisingly, on sculpture.  

Meitner, a few years shy of 70, is aware of the rarity of a man at his "advanced age," as he puts it, suddenly striving for a PhD in his own field. As a man who has taught and created art most of his life, he saw this scholarly advancement as a necessity to get his ideas across to the public. His thesis, which will be a part of the exhibition itself, includes "principles current in cognitive science" as well as "logical arguments" to support his theories about art. This completed paper, combined with his 14 sculptures, are meant to be a part of the same central idea — changing the way people see, teach, and think about art. "Strike while the iron's hot", the title of his exhibition, is meant to poke fun at Meitner's choice of taking his ideas about art to such serious heights at his ripe age, and the phrase also connects directly to how his sculptures were made.

One of his sculptures entitled "Cold Fusion" was on display in the 1990s for a solo exhibition in the Leiden Museum of Science, or Museum Borhaave. Not only an art piece, it's also a "working model" of a scientific process that Meitner and many others hope will help save our planet. As this article by Jason Coppola of Truthout explains, cold fusion could be the future of heat generation. LENR, or Low Energy Nuclear Reactions - also called Cold Fusion - is the "the phenomenon where anomalous amounts of heat are created when certain metals (e.g., nickel, palladium) absorb hydrogen or deuterium and an external stimulus such as heat or an electric current is applied. The reaction takes place at a relatively low temperature and sometimes results in transmutation of elements as well as the production of heat," which is the definition by E-Cat World that is within Cappola's article. It generates no waste, and it could very well lead the way to Earth's clean, green future, as Meitner is certainly hoping. 

Meitner is also a part time professor, teaching a Master’s degree course which combines elements of art and science at the the University Nova de Lisboa. The course he teaches, called "Vicarte," is all about researching glass and ceramics and the "intersections between art and science". Vicarte's research is divided between cultural heritage within glass making and "contemporary creativity and materials". The classes specific goal is to "extend" the ways artists use glass and ceramics. More information on Vicarte, and on the work of  Meitner is available online.


"Strike while the iron's hot"
New work by Richard Meitner
Through July 22nd
Gallery of the Faculty of Fine Arts 
University of Lisboa

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.