WE ARE SNAG: Identity Juror Statement
Not long ago, while lecturing at a University overseas, I was asked, “How do you characterize jewelry in America vs. jewelry in Europe?” I found it difficult to answer, but submissions to the exhibition “We are SNAG: Identity” seem to confirm my response that jewelry/metalwork in North America is “all over the place”. That is to say we reflect the diversity of our culture, our geography, our training and our origins. Entries for this exhibition ranged from the conceptual to the concrete, from precious to non-precious, from gold and gemstones to wood and plastic, from the use of the latest technology to time-honored processes we have inherited from previous generations of gold and silversmiths.
For me, the question then became, how does one evaluate this diversity on equal terms? What sets some work apart from others? And, what effect does the fact that work is being juried from the virtual image (and will be shown in exhibition as such) have? It was difficult since I could not evaluate how something was made; how it felt when picked up; or, how it would lie on the body or relate to the user. All of which are important criteria.
To me, good work has a strong conceptual foundation. It is well conceived and appropriately designed. The visual execution of the work must convey the intent. And, finally, the work must function as intended.
Given the limitations, I first looked at the quality of the image. Not only did the image have to be clear and give me as much information as possible, but was the work presented in the best possible manner? The image could not be a distraction from the work. I acknowledge that all artists are influenced by what they see and hear, however, if the work was highly derivative of someone else’s influence, it was eliminated. I am always searching for that individual “fingerprint” of the artist.
I am sure the process is flawed. I felt handicapped by the virtual image alone. I inevitably, eliminated some work that I may have included under different conditions, and similarly, may have included work which might have been eliminated on criteria I could not evaluate. My apologies.
What I admire most about “We are SNAG: identity” is that it does convey the diversity of intent, aesthetic, and process that we, as contemporary metalsmiths and jewelers reflect. We ARE SNAG. We are creative. We have something to say through our ideas and use of material.
- C. James Meyer