- Wednesday, 29 November 2017 17:33
"Glass is my creative partner. Over the years, I have created different types of glass art and in return, it has deeply enriched my life."
The sole full-time lecturer of glass art in a university in Hong Kong, Assistant Professor of HKBU's Academy of Visual Arts Dr Sunny Wang has a very impressive résumé and portfolio. She is originally from Taiwan, but her passion for art took her to Australia where she was awarded a Master of Visual Arts from Australian National University and later a PhD in Visual Arts–Glass from University of South Australia. Prior to joining HKBU, she also taught at the National Taiwan University of Arts.
Dr Wang has also received widespread recognition for her glass art. Her work was shortlisted in New Glass Review 26/30/33 by The Corning Museum of Glass in New York and has been displayed at several other international exhibitions. Dr Wang's glass art works has gained worldwide recognition. Recently, the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macau invited Dr Wang to hold her first solo exhibition in Macau; "FLOW: Glass Art Exhibition by Sunny Wang" which ran from September to November this year at the Temporary Exhibitions Gallery of the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau. This exhibition showcased Dr Wang's past 18 year works (2000-2017) and have attracted around 64,000 visitors. Currently (November to December 2017) Dr Wang is also holding her fourth glass art solo exhibition "The Shape of Time" in Hong Kong at 1a space, which is founded by Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC). Given Dr Wang’s many accomplishments, it is natural for one thought that Dr Wang knew she wanted to be a glass sculptor from a young age. But actually, she started her glass art journey after she finished her undergraduate studies.
"When I graduated with a degree in commercial art, I didn’t have specific plans for my career development; in fact, I did not know much about glass. Then, I was referred for a job as a design assistant in a glass factory in Hsinchu, where I assisted my boss in blowing glass samples after hours." Later, she met the late Professor Stephen Procter from Australia who encouraged her to study for a postgraduate qualification and passed information about scholarships to her, allowing her to further her studies in Australia which led to her 20-year glass journey.
Glass art is well developed in Europe, in contrast, it is not a popular contemporary art form in Asia. Its popularity is hindered by views that artists, especially those working in glass, are not dealing with realistic themes. Dr Wang doesn’t agree, “In my view, glass is one medium of art and language, just like paintings and sculptures, to express oneself.” Dr Wang always remembers the values inculcated by her parents and works hard to be a down-to-earth artist and teacher.
In 2006, Dr Wang joined HKBU as a visiting scholar. She taught in the Academy of Visual Arts and assisted in the design and establishment of the first glass workshop in local University and started the first glass art course. She recalls how glass art was very new in Hong Kong and she faced a lot of challenges at the time. "We lacked space and glass tools and supplies. I remember we had to set up a temporary workshop outside the classroom. With time, we developed for our students a well-equipped workshop for glass blowing and casting."
Dr Wang enjoys teaching and sharing the joy of art creation with students. She thinks there are many things in common between glass art and education. "Humans and glass have their own personality. Every student is unique. While teaching I first try to learn more about students' individual personality and enhance their creativities through different opportunities." After 10 years at the University, Dr Wang has found that teaching is not a one-way flow. Rather, she has realised that she can learn some insights from a younger perspective, such as knowledge about computers. In recent years, she has given them more opportunities to try things by themselves, "I used to remind my students from time to time so that they wouldn’t make mistakes. These days, I think it is also important to allow them to learn from failure, and sometimes it may bring about fruitful results."
Dr Wang also learnt an important lesson last year when she was recovering from an illness. "I am having the best time of my life." While she enjoys taking challenges, she also finds time to relax by cooking and going hiking. She has successfully combined art, life and education to experience greater fulfillment in life.