The World's Foremost Authority on Glass

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Biography: Freyja Hartzell

Name: 
Freyja Hartzell

Freyja Hartzell is interested in the ways in which we interact with objects and how they interact with us, both historically and in contemporary life. Currently an associate professor at Bard Graduate Center in New York, she examines how domestic objects served as communicators when Europe was experiencing unprecedented political, cultural, and social upheaval. Hartzell is currently pursuing a new research project, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which explores the material and conceptual aspects of transparency in design and their political implications for international modernism. “Glass is magic,” said Hartzell. “Not quite liquid, not quite solid, it is a shape-shifter: transforming itself, and, when penetrated by light, transfiguring the world.”

Hartzell earned her BA from Grinnell College, her MA from Bard Graduate Center, and sequentially earned her Ph.D. at Yale University. Her book manuscript examines how Munich artist Richard Riemerschmid’s early 20th-century designs for housewares, interiors, and clothing force a re-conception of what we tend to understand as “modern.” She has previously lectured on myths surrounding modern glass.

In late July and early August 2019, Hartzell will be a David Whitehouse Research Resident Scholar. During her residency, she will focus on how glass as material is transparent but has not always delivered in creating political and social transparency.