SNAG has been a significant professional activity in my career and being part of its community and governance has been a truly meaningful experience. During my term as president, I saw a broad scope of current work being produced throughout the country and felt gratified to realize that artists were still using traditional techniques while others are exploring territory in new media. I was very pleased to be asked to be a juror for the “We Are SNAG: Contemporary Smiths” exhibition and I enjoyed working with my fellow jurors, Greg Gehner and Tom Muir. Since we live near each other, we were able to meet for the second and final round of jurying. I believe that we selected a cohesive exhibition because we were able to have an in-depth discussion about the work.
With nearly 700 entries, we needed to determine some parameters to create a consistent show. The first question we asked and answered was, “What is a contemporary smith?” We unanimously agreed on a traditional interpretation of the word; one who shapes metal through hammering. This interpretation left a lot of beautiful work out simply because it did not fit our definition of smithing. A few pieces referenced smithing in an interesting and relevant manner such as Peter Evonuk’s ”Bubble Tea Pot” in which he is suggesting the volume of a teapot through the thin film of a soap bubble. By taking a seamless, volumetric object and flattening it, Joshua Kosker refers to angle raising as he uses tangelo peels and stretches them like animal skins in “Cubic Tangelo Necklace I.”
The strongest work had a clear concept, a developed and mature aesthetic as well as a mastery of technique. It was unique and original. The quality of the image was an important consideration when choosing the works to be included. Since this show only exists online, we looked for images with striking vantage points that clearly described the piece and its function. Although this exhibition is just a glimpse of the work that is currently being made related to smithing, it presents many fine examples of the field with which I am so proud to be affiliated.
- Sue Amendolara