Articulating Craft is a new exhibition opening this weekend at the Arts Center Gallery on the campus of scenic Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. Curated by metalsmith and Nazareth College arts professor Holland Houdek, the exhibit features work by thirty-seven artists from across the U.S./Canada juried by Houdek in tandem with college arts faculty. Houdek writes in her curatorial statement: “A new generation of artists are routinely pushing the boundaries of materials and concept by further commenting on social and political issues, exploring new technologies, techniques, and aesthetics, and crossing disciplinary borders…By Articulating Craft in this way, we hope to feature works across various media to showcase what this new generation of makers is doing with their work, whether functional or sculptural, and to create a space for advancing the public’s awareness and appreciation of this diverse and expanding movement.”
Rochester-based metalsmith/jeweler and arts professor Lydia Martin uses line to delineate how her facets of the hollow forms in her piece Shift “come together” into a fluid connection mechanism for her three intertwined hollow-constructed silver forms. In metalworking-speak, hollow construction is a means of creating both geometric or organic three-dimensional shapes by using silver or gold solder to construct walls of metal sheet to encompass the dimensional body of an object. This technique is also known as fabrication, as opposed to the historical method of metal construction commonly known as lost-wax casting. Martin is masterful with her sterling hollow constructions, as one can imagine the amount of soldering contraptions she must have needed to position these three circular elements in such a way to achieve the fluidity of the overall brooch forms. Additionally, Martin draws with her silver and gold solders to make the surface of her brooch forms have a two-dimensional life of its own. Deliberate oxidation or blackened patina from one circular plane of each object being connected to the other enhances the raw aspect of beauty within her hollow forms.
Just as Lydia Martin uses line to allow her own geometric distinctions to emerge, my Upcycled Reimagined Gemstone Object No. 1 created for this exhibit embraces the 2-D lines of a gemstone’s geometric facets. Using Adobe Illustrator software, I reimagined what a new gemstone facet may look like, drawing lines with the pen tool and creating geometric planes that are output in color onto archival paper. As discussed in my previous post to artdoesmatter, I upcycle fibrous material from disposable microwaveable soup bowls and lids, a common consumer waste, into carefully crafted objects. Using all the same tools employed in studio metalsmithing techniques, I saw, pierce, score, drill holes and use sterling silver rivets or sew with thread to construct my oval 3-D object. I refer to my new raw material as a “socially-conscious ivory.” No genuine ivory is used, only the left-over fiber materials that I transform into personal adornments or petite objects instead of landfill fodder. It’s the perfect process combination or amalgam of digital-meets-the-handmade.
Reed Fagan, a metalsmith and arts professor currently based in Canada, embraces the geometric in his Cobordant Teapot in a more mathematically-true style. The term cobordant refers to a function in geometry where two different manifold spaces are mapped onto one manifold space (or vice versa.) Fagan, who coincidentally studied math concurrently while studying metalworking as an undergraduate, appears to use a combination of raising metal with hammers and hollow construction to fabricate his teapot’s 3-D forms in sections. Reflective angles of copper sheet metal are joined in such a rhythm that one could imagine how convincing his forms can be that all teapots are “born” this way naturally. In this bending of angles and silver seams, Fagan is skillfully fooling his viewer into believing that a teapot can engage in this rhythmical movement all on its own. Fagan uses the silver solder line to “draw” on his surfaces as a decorative element as if the metal was being scored apart – not simply only a means to constructing the metal parts of the teapot together. The concave silver lid with cylindrical ebony handle hearkens back to the historic Scandinavian holloware designs of the early 20th century. Fagan, just like Lydia Martin and myself, infuses his own persona into the object while embracing his own differing aspects of his handmade object’s geometric styles.
Articulating Craft is now on view at the Arts Center Gallery located on the campus of Nazareth College at 4245 East Avenue in Rochester, New York. The exhibition continues through March 1st, 2019.
All images used appear courtesy of the artists and Nazareth College Arts Department.