Tel-Hai Magazine - Fall 2020
Through a glass, not quite so darkly “Less may not be more, but for now, this is
When Tel-Hai's academic year opened under the pallid sign of the ongoing Corona epidemic and Israel's second lockdown, Noa Ha-Giladi, realizing she would not have the opportunity of teaching her long anticipated glass crafting techniques workshop course decided it was time to take a breather, and take a bike trip around the Land of Israel. An eight-week bike trip. We were able to catch her for this interview while she was leaning back and enjoying the view in Mitzpe Shalem in the Judean Wilderness. We wondered how this journey, in stark landscapes so different from the verdant, stream and lake strewn Galilee Panhandle influenced her perspective. Well, we asked, and we got far more than we expected. Noa recalled her first visit to Tel-Hai, back in 2002. She was just visiting a friend back then, but naturally stopped to have a look at Tel-Hai's glassworks. "Truthfully", she says "There was not much to see." But even back then Noa had toyed around with the idea of building a fully equipped glassworks studio in the verdant north, one in which many glass working techniques could be practiced and taught. It would be 15 long years before Noa returned full time to glass working, her first artistic love, or to Tel-Hai. In the interim, she suffered a nervous breakdown, clawed her way back to recovery through artistic photography and painting, especially of nature and landscapes, renewed her glass working studies in Israel and abroad, and eventually made her way to us for a residency in our "A Studio of Your Own" program. Unfortunately, Tel-Hai's glass working studio, though respectable by Israeli standards, continued to fall far short of Noa's vision, or of the equipment and possibilities to which she was exposed abroad. Nonetheless it was during her residency that she had an epiphany. "I realized I didn’t need the most advanced equipment to achieve results, to create true and authentic art which expressed my vision and could inspire others" says Noa.
enough. And every creation, every student I can inspire, is another step forward towards creating the critical mass necessary to transform Tel-Hai's glassworks into the ideal Israeli glass working center I envision". In other words, Noa has adopted the "another dunam and another goat" adage of David Ben Gurion and the founders of Tel-Hai. That vision of the future is part of what keeps Noa going. But the greater part is her passion for glasswork and fascination with the manifold qualities and versatility of the material. "Glass is innately reflective, clear, moldable – and fragile. All of these qualities combine to offer an artist infinite potential – and morally compel her to explore this potential to the utmost." Passion and authenticity is key, Noa says. "When an artist uses her art to reflect authentic experiences, insights, and inner turmoil, then they become healers. Of themselves – and of anyone who bonds with their work". "What I want more than anything else", continues Noa, "Is to pass that passion onwards". Noa plans to do that, in her intended class, by introducing her students to glass working techniques which have shaped her artistic development and career, many of which are unknown in Israel. She first brings up casting, which enables the artist to imbue an existing object with new meaning of interpretation. She used this technique to prepare a pair of glass stumps (Gedamim) six months before her father's death, symbolizing the transience of life, and the enduring legacy left behind even in death. She delved deeper into her father's character, and his importance to her, in her Betzalel graduation centerpiece, a full scale glass tractor. Initially, she had considered to use casting for this work as well, and experimented with half a dozen techniques, before settling on fusing and slumping. "I got exactly what I wanted, but not what I envisioned, when I used slumping on the tractor" says Noa. "This is the nature of the artistic process – the artist needs to be prepared to accept what the process is telling her, rather than insist on imposing her vision on the outcome".
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