Monday, April 09, 2007

Fine Art from the Forge - good art reception on Saturday

We are blessed by maybe the finest concentration of blacksmiths anywhere in the USA. This show should be a good one.

Fine Art from the Forge:
Work of Southern Illinois Blacksmiths
Reception on Saturday, April 14th, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
John Medwedeff, exhibition curator
Exhibition at the Gallery Space at 1008 Walnut Street, Murphysboro
March 19 through June 2, 2007

This is an exhibition that celebrates both the work of artist-blacksmiths living in Southern Illinois and the important history of the local blacksmithing community. The work in the exhibition explores diverse uses of iron and mixed media for decorative and sculptural possibilities.
In the mid 20th century, a combination of World War II, new technology, changing economies and the emerging movement of Modernism in art, design, and architecture interrupted the rich history of creative work by blacksmiths. In the post-war years, blacksmiths and their skills all but passed into history.

The 1960's saw the beginning of a renewed interest in the craft as reaction to an increasingly modernized world, and in concert with counter-culture idealism of the times. By then, the traditional system of handing down skills from master to apprentice had ended. The Fox Fire book series shed some light on the old methods, a handful of "old timers" were still around to teach a new generation, and there were people trying to figure it out their own. Historically, blacksmithing had been one of the building trades. Then in 1969, Brent Kington, Professor of Metalsmithing at SIUC, brought blacksmithing into the academic art world for the first time in the United States.

By the mid 1970's the Metals Department at SIUC had become very well known as the one and only graduate program for Artist-Blacksmiths. During this time the nation was swept up in Bicentennial celebrations. To mark the occasion, Evert Johnson, Curator of Art at the SIUC University Museum from 1966 to 1989, curated the 1976 exhibition "Iron - Solid Wrought USA" featuring historic and contemporary ironwork. This further cemented Southern Illinois' place in the growing international blacksmithing community. Jim Wallace, one of Evert Johnson's museum assistants and Brent Kington's graduate students from that time, went on to become Director of the Metal Museum in Memphis, TN. Several artists represented in this current exhibition have worked and trained at the Metal Museum as well as at SIUC.
In the last 30 years, decorative ironwork has found its way back into architecture and forged iron has become a respected medium for fine art. Graduates of SIUC have started shops and built academic programs across the country. A global community of blacksmiths has come together to fully reinvigorate the profession. The SIUC Metals Department, now under the leadership of Rick Smith, still the epicenter of blacksmithing in the U.S., has continued to foster the work of emerging artists.

Several of us who moved here for the educational opportunities decided to settle in the area. The result of all this is that Southern Illinois is home to a thriving and constantly evolving blacksmithing community that occupies a unique place in world of contemporary ironwork.

John Medwedeff

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Evert Johnson, 1929 - 2006.

Megan Robin Abbot
Roberta Elliot
Margaret Goodman
Molly Alter Groom
William Groves
Matt Haugh
Adam Hawk
Dean Huxman
Brent Kington
Chris Lehr
Andrew Macdonald
John Medwedeff
Daryl Meier
Jaime Pelissier
Bill Price
Andrew Rieckenberg
Rick Smith
Aaron Vigardt
Jeff Wallin
Andy White

1 comment:

THE READER said...

This show is very good. I love the receptions in this space. Jolly people and great food, always. But you should go see it in the quiet of the day also, when you can take your time with the work. See you this Saturday night!