WE ARE SNAG: Identity Juror Statement
“We Are SNAG” is a great name for an exhibition and it seems like a simple statement, but upon examination there is a lot going on here. Who, exactly, is SNAG? One way to answer the question is with data. Because the Society is a membership organization, we could point to a list of names and addresses and say, there it is … that’s SNAG. Of course this would be rather dry and would miss a lot of information. Pretend the Society knew the ages, incomes, and skill levels of its members — don’t worry, they don’t — even that kind of data would provide only a passionless response to “We are SNAG.”
Another approach would be to look around at a SNAG conference. There you’d see the mix of ages, clothing and hairstyles. And you’d see a lot of smiles, conversation and enquiry, which is certainly a more interesting view of who makes up the Society. Most would agree that any organization that can boast of SNAG’s long history and the deep commitment of its members has a beating heart beneath the membership roster.
But SNAG conferences, like most organizations, draw a small percentage of the membership, and while this might be a representative group, there is no way to know for sure. For me, this is true of the current exhibition and it is something that should be acknowledged. The exhibition was open to all SNAG members but it seems to me the submissions came disproportionately from students and recent graduates of academic programs. Of course they are part of the “We,” but the SNAG identity I’d like to see includes benchworkers, production jewelers, knifemakers and metalsmiths of all stripes.
While there are exceptional pieces here, I wished for more. More innovation, more exploration and more personal inquiry. I found many of the pieces to be covering ground that has been explored before, and while this is a valid educational device, I wished for greater originality. I found too many pieces choked by their own conceptual conceits. Jewelry can be political or personally narrative, but when it does so at the expense of jewelry's rich traditions, I think the sacrifice is too great.
If I’m right in thinking that the exhibition does not accurately represent the full membership of SNAG, this is not a fault of the organization or the exhibition. Rather, it is a reality in our busy world. The Society is richer because it includes metalsmiths from all levels of the profession, but not everyone is able to devote the time and resources needed to submit work for a competition. By default, then, the exhibition hints at the full organization but is probably not an accurate cross section of its members. This is a pity because we are all the richer when we expand our view.
— Tim McCreight