Matilda Kästel: Glass Queen

Architerior had a talk with Swedish artist Matilda Kästel whose main art material is glass.

Where are you from?

I’m from Sweden, and I live and work in Stockholm.

How did your art career start?

I started showing my work while I was still studying, in 2010. I applied for a lot of exhibitions during my school years, which meant that my work had been shown in different countries and contexts by the time I finished my MFA in 2013.

Can you tell us a bit about your education?

Like many artists, I have a long education. I did two years of craft/preparatory schools, three years of glass design and two years MFA in ceramics & glass at Konstfack.

We’d love to know more about your art style; what are your preferences?

I work mainly in glass, but often combined with other materials and/or kinetics, to make things move. I focus on sculpting, making my own molds that I either blow or cast glass into. When I started, I only used clear glass. After a residency in the US a few years ago, I started using colors. My shapes are often organic, inspired by the body or nature.

What’s the hardest part of being an artist?

It’s a boring thing to talk about, but the hardest part is to make enough money to finance your next project. I don’t make art to be commercially successful, I make work that I think is relevant and that I’m interested in. Sometimes those two coincide, but far from always.

What’s the best part of being an artist?

The best part is the possibility to be creative, to use your imagination and to develop your own language and expression. It takes you places, both physically and mentally.

Can you mention a few exhibitions or moments in your art career that have been extra important to you?

Being an Artist in Residence at Pilchuck Glass School, WA, which gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in work for two months. It made a huge impact on me. Showing my work at the Swedish National Museum was also a milestone. 

What are you working on right now?

At the moment I’m working on an idea that I’ve had for years, a make-out machine. It consists of two big, sculptural cog wheels with tongues in glass and silicone attached to them. The wheels slowly turn, making the tongues lick each other for ever.

I’m also working on a project with my feminist glass collective BOOM! We’re building a mobile furnace to take with us and show kids what it’s like to blow glass.

What does “good art” mean to you?

Something that affects the viewer in some way, that has something to say about the world we live in and ourselves as humans.

What inspires you to create? Where do you get ideas and energy?

I usually get ideas for my next project while I’m working on my current one. Work begets work somehow. I also get tons of energy and motivation from my fellow sisters in BOOM!

If you could exhibit your art anywhere/with anyone, where/who would it be?

I would love to show my work together with Dan Wolgers, who is a huge inspiration. The location is less important, although New York is always New York.

Do you have your own or others art on your walls?

I mostly have the work of friends and colleagues on my walls at home. It’s like having them around all the time, or at least a part of them.

How does one stay unique in the art world, and is that important?

I think it’s important not to compare yourself to others. To keep doing your own thing and work with themes you’re interested in, not what’s trendy at the moment. That’s the only way to find your own unique expression.


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