This year’s Society of North American Goldsmiths’ (SNAG) conference “Meta-Mosaic“ was held in May in Toronto, Canada. It was co-chaired by Paul McClure of George Brown College and Melanie Egan of the Harbourfront Centre, an “innovative not-for-profit cultural organization that creates events and activities of excellence.”[i] The Harbourfront Centre boasts a metals studio in its own craft department hosting “six to […]
Linda MacNeil, Magnificent, 2013, brooch, acid polished glass, polished Vitrolite glass, 24-karat gold plate, 114.3 x 82.55 x 12.7 mm, photo: Bill Truslow Susan Cummins: Please give us some idea of how you became the unusual combination of a glassblowing jeweler. Linda MacNeil: To clarify, I don’t do any glassblowing. I work with glass in
Linda MacNeil makes jewelry using glass and metal, which gives her amazing control. By using glass and creating jewelry, she crosses over the material lines and appeals to both glass and jewelry collectors. Well established and collected by many museums, Linda joined with Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to concentrate on Brooches, the title of her new show. The variety of style, color, and form is pretty remarkable.
Susan Cummins: Please give us some idea of how you became the unusual combination of a glassblowing jeweler.
Linda MacNeil: To clarify, I don’t do any glassblowing. I work with glass in various ways to create specific parts and shapes and colors or to make solid masses of stock, which I can cut and grind to fit the metal parts of a specific piece.
I was experimenting with acrylics in 1972–73 when I met Dan Dailey, who showed me that glass can be an artist’s medium. Glass has diverse optical properties, an infinite range of colors, it can be similar to gemstones, similar to opaque minerals, similar to metal, yet it is unique. Glass is both ancient and contemporary.
Why do you make jewelry using glass?
Linda MacNeil: I have control over the color, the texture, and the quality of light falling on or passing through or refracting within my work. It is also completely my own, unlike a purchased gem or a custom stone.
Helen Britton, Shell Garden with Loops, 2012, brooch, silver, diamonds, paint, 90 x 60 x 30 mm, photo: artist Susan Cummins: Helen, can you explain Heterogene as the title of your current show at Galerie Rob Koudijs? Helen Britton: Heterogene is really from the word heterogeneous and refers to the diverse preoccupations in my work.
Helen Britton has been very busy in the past couple of years, preparing an exhibit at the Neues Museum in Nürnberg, Germany, collaborating at FORM in Perth, Australia, preparing for gallery shows, writing for AJF, and so forth. How she also had time to pull together this show for Galerie Rob Koudijs in Amsterdam I will never know. Helen is a whirlwind. She is also one of the most professional and thoughtful artists working.
Susan Cummins: Helen, can you explain Heterogene as the title of your current show at Galerie Rob Koudijs?
Helen Britton: Heterogene is really from the word heterogeneous and refers to the diverse preoccupations in my work. The exhibition at Galerie Rob Koudijs includes, more or less, five different sections, one quite unrelated to another. There are the Dekorationswut pieces; a new drawing sequence that is autonomous but related to the Dekorationswut theme; a selection of the Industrial works, including what I am calling the New Industrial Gardens; as well as two major archival brooches. Then, there is The Big Ear, and of course a presentation of the Jewellery for T-Shirts project with Justine McKnight. It’s a pretty diverse show, and the first time I have presented so many different groups together. I usually have solo exhibitions where I just show one body of related work.
The 2013 conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) was held in Toronto, Canada, in May and was organized by Paul McClure of George Brown College and Melanie Egan of the Harbourfront Centre. The conference was a gathering of mainly North American professional jewelers, academics, and students. The activities included lectures, short PechaKucha-like presentations, interviews, exhibitions, a trunk
Myra Mimlitsch-Gray portrait, photo: artist Susan Cummins: You are a forceful person and seem to have been born fully formed out of the head of Vulcan, but the baby Myra must have had a journey to get to your position of great silversmith and professor. Can you tell me how that happened? Myra Mimlitsch-Gray: Wow
Sienna Gallery in Lenox, Massachusetts is presenting new work by Myra Mimlitsch-Gray called Something for the Table. Myra has been a professor at State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz for the past 20 years and a master metalsmith with numerous awards to her credit, including a 2012 United States Artist Fellowship. As the gallery notes explain, “deliberately tentative, this work investigates fracture, explores gesture, and embodies utilitarian notions, suggesting a return to the table.” Myra is articulate and very funny as well as a force to be heard. She is entertaining and challenging at the same time.
Susan Cummins: You are a forceful person and seem to have been born fully formed out of the head of Vulcan, but the baby Myra must have had a journey to get to your position of great silversmith and professor. Can you tell me how that happened?
Myra Mimlitsch-Gray: Wow Susan, that’s quite the lead in! I do have a thing for hammers, and as far as force, well, that’s probably the result of having four older brothers and parents who made physical labor into educational projects—fun for the whole family. In the 70s, we built a house together, and I was assigned the task of straightening nails for reuse. It turned out I was pretty good at it. The baby Myra wanted to be a painter and set out for art school. As it so often happens, the class I wanted was full, so I got stuck in a jewelry class. The bug bit, and that was that.
But really, the crafts were in me at the start. I recall sticking pins into dolls’ ears as a child, and I was a self-taught macramé artist, which resulted in some pretty awful jewelry. Camping trips prompted a fascination with technical planning, problem solving, teamwork, and modes of efficiency that inform my working methods today.
This year’s week-long jewelry gathering was slightly sadder for being so well mapped out. The Handwerkskammer provided the program, Current Obsession, a newly launched magazine, came with a large foldout map, which was a nice complement to the street finder published and given out by gallerist Kinga Zobel. To be absolutely certain of your itinerary, it
Rebecca Hannon, Flower Beard, 2013, beard ornament, cone 10 porcelain, sterling silver, 228.6 x 177.8 x 25.4 mm, photo: Laura Macdonald Susan Cummins: Can you tell the story of how you discovered that you wanted to be a jeweler? Rebecca Hannon: I grew up in Virginia, and my high school art teacher took me to
Beatriz Defeo, who was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1948, came to Europe almost by chance. An invitation to join a theater group (“if you can sing and dance, you’ll be fine”) lured her away from a budding career in journalism at the tender age of 24 (she had been reporting on football at the
Ramón Puig Cuyàs, network no. 1430, 2011, brooch, oxidized German silver, 580 x 72 x 20 mm, photo: artist Susan Cummins: Ramon, please tell us the story of how you became a jeweler? Ramón Puig Cuyàs: I think I’ve always been a lucky person. When I was young, I had three ideas of what I