Architerior talked to Stockholm based glass artist Erika Kristofersson Bredberg who just a few days ago was awarded a grant for her work. Erika shared her journey of moving out of the “safe zone” and into a place where she could create pieces she could really stand for, pieces with thought provoking messages. Glass blowing is a tough physical job which is something Erika has to take into account in her daily routine. Over the years her pieces have gotten a lot more finesse, but the humor and sarcastic vibe has been constant since forever.
How did you find your way into art?
I grew up on the countryside in the north part of Sweden. During my youth I didn’t have access to art galleries or museums but my home was filled with music from vinyls, political influences, a lot of humor and my moms friends from different cultures. My mom encouraged me from an early age to express my creative side. In a journal from when I was 9 years old, I had written: “When I grow up I’m gonna be a famous artist in Paris”. The support from my mom combined with my dads Modesty Blaise collection inspired me to proceed my interest in art.
Was education in art a part of your journey to become an artist?
Yes indeed. I work with hot glass and there are years of technical training behind my wonky sculptures. I also have a Bachelor from Konstfack, but my philosophy or vision with art doesn’t necessarily come from that education. Of course Konstfack opened my eyes for a craft scene and the education gave me some tools but the art I make is an ongoing spectrum from my whole life.
What techniques do you use?
I work with hot glass, I blow it up, shape and sculpture it. I often use my own custom decals made especially for putting on glass to decorate the object. Sometimes I take an object and put it in an oven that reaches over 700 degrees Celsius and heat up the object so it becomes totally flat. I often call those pieces “leftovers”, similar to when you reheat food i the oven.
Has your style or technique changed over time?
I always develop in the studio, specially with my technique. Working with glass has been tough on my body so I also had to learn to take care of my body. Stretch my arms before and after, rehab my body and build muscles. It maybe doesn’t fit the idea of a young fearless artist. But it’s my job and I probably have to work until I’m 80, so its boring but it helps. Today I’m more confident with my objects and there is much more finesse in my pieces now, but I think that the humor and sarcastic vibe has been constant since forever.
If you had to summarize your art in three words, what would they be?
Fun, wonky, ambivalent.
Which artists or art styles have inspired you?
Popular culture and current events in the media.
Is there something in particular that you wish to convey to the viewer through your work?
Sometimes I put messages on my objects, it’s often my own political ideas or a statement. For example, some of my sculptures have a strong Mickey Mouse reference and the text “Die Nazi” or “Antifa” – meaning anti fascist. I think that many people know that Walt Disney was a member of a Nazi friendly “movement”, and for those who don’t they might find out by seeing my piece and wonder, why is the word Nazi written on this cute sculpture of Mickey?
What are you working on right now?
I’m preparing for a solo show in Apotekshuset / Sollefteå this fall and a solo show at Galleri Glas / Stockholm spring 2022. I’m also a member of the art collective BOOM! and we have two upcoming shows this summer. And I’m also finishing a public commission work with Jenny Lundgren in my hometown Örnsköldsvik.
Inspiration is important when creating, where do you find inspiration?
From time to time I need to go visit my home up North, mostly to reload and take it slow. I don’t get my inspiration from nature I just need nature to open my eyes to find it in other places. I get inspiration from city environments, people, fashion, weird videos on Youtube and by hanging out with friends and my partner and his kids.
Are there any special moments in your art career that you’d like to share – moments that perhaps brought you forward, gave you clarity or changed you?
After my Bachelor at Konstfack I got a grant where I got money and a studio space for six months. It was an opportunity to experiment and find an other angle in my work. But instead I ended up not doing my own work for almost two years, I had no inspiration at all. I was a gaffer at a studio making production work for others. Me and Ammy Olofsson took over that same studio and the studio Glasbolaget was born. After a while I slowly started to work with my own pieces, and I did some good pieces but it was first when a friend told me to come out from the “safe zone” that I started to make objects I really can stand behind. A couple of days ago I got a new big grant, so me leaving that “safe zone” gave some results.
Images courtesy of Erika Kristofersson Bredberg on Instagram