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Feedback from our Scholarship Recipients

My SNAG Educational Endowment Scholarship Experience

By Bifei Cao, 2011 Recipient

I came to the United States to pursue an MFA in Jewelry & Metals at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After learning about the SNAG Educational Endowment Scholarship, I decided to apply but I never expected that I would be awarded first place when faced with the competitive applicants from different schools.

After I received word that I had won, I immediately called my advisor, Lynda LaRoche. She instilled in me a hunger for knowledge, brought me to a new world, and at the same time, respected my own artistic language. Since then, I am still surprised what I have achieved…and think I might be for the rest of my life.

The scholarship helped me not only with my financial situation, but most importantly, with my confidence. In China, I had nearly lost my faith succeeding as a metalsmith as I was defined there as a non-talented student during my MA studies. But later, a Shanghai University professor encouraged me to apply to her graduate school, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I cherished the opportunity and worked as hard as I possibly could. I appreciate the educational system of the United States that has allowed me to discover myself, and I’m happy to say that I’ve started to receive invitations from galleries for themed exhibitions.

I believe that the SNAG Educational Endowment Scholarship is an invaluable help to students. It brings emerging artists with diversified works and cultures to our jewelry and metals field. It builds students’ confidence and brings new blood into the field.

As a student who has received the benefit from the scholarship, I will purchase raffle tickets this year, and I would like to ask every artist to support the scholarship fund. It is really a way to build futures of young artists.


2011 Educational Scholarship Winner & Raffle Double Winner

By M. Annie Kilborn, 2011 Recipient

It was a delight and honor to find out that I was one of the SNAG’s Educational Endowment Scholarship Awardees. Although I have previously submitted work for past SNAG student exhibitions, this was the first year I applied for the scholarship. Since I was pleased with the work I created for my BFA creative project, I figured I had nothing to lose by applying. As a student, I know the importance of getting your work out there, hoping for positive encouragement and being willing to accept rejection.

The annual conferences are always inspirational and are a wonderful way to make lasting connections in our field. I really wanted to attend the Seattle conference, but unfortunately, the financial burden of moving my family across country to San Diego for graduate school seemed to make my conference attendance unfeasible. However, the exciting news that I had been awarded the scholarship came early enough that I was able to book my travel for Seattle!

At the conference’s final dinner and dance party, I was not paying much attention to the names being called for the raffle. My mentor informed me that my name had just been called. I won a free photo session from Steven Brian Samuels Art and Jewelry Photography! I had purchased a single raffle ticket–not because I had high hopes of winning, but to support the Educational Endowment Scholarship. As a student, I am well aware that every opportunity counts and being awarded even the smallest honor is stimulating and encouraging. It is important to promote opportunities for those who are building futures as artists.

I highly encourage everyone to buy raffle tickets. Each ticket purchased goes to the Educational Endowment Scholarship Fund to help achieve students’ career goals. Plus you might be a lucky winner of one of the great prizes, which are generously donated each year!


My Experience as a Hoover & Strong Scholarship Winner

by Heejin Hwang, 2011 Recipient

I am greatly honored to become a Hoover & Strong Scholarship recipient and so thrilled to receive this award. I have applied for a variety of scholarships every time if given opportunities, with the conviction of ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ but it has special significance for me this time. This is because I have thought that I would like my current work to be recognized by the public so far as a student artist, and I was more sure about and confident in my works of art through this opportunity.

What I shouted with joy when I was informed of this news was “Yes!!”

In addition, I still vividly remember that I was thinking with a chuckle of buying tools and materials I had long wanted with this scholarship. Subsequently, there have been many changes to me actually. Among them, the biggest change is that it is more pleasant to create works of art. I am enormously grateful to SNAG for giving me such an important experience.


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Educational Endowment Scholarship Recipients 2004-2011

2011 Recipients

The 2011 Educational Endowment Scholarship recipients:

Bifei Cao, graduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

M. Anne Kilborn, graduate student at Ball State University

Emily Eversgerd, undergraduate student at East Tennessee State University

The 2011 Hoover & Strong Scholarship recipient:

Heejin Hwang, graduate student at University of Wisconsin, Madison


2010 Recipients

The 2009 Educational Endowment scholarship recipients:
David Choi, graduate student at State University of New York, New Paltz
Jee Young Han, graduate student at University of Wisconsin, Madison
Rebekah Frank, undergraduate at Texas State University, San Marcos

Honorable Mention in 2010:
Loring Taoka, graduate student at the University of North Texas
Amy Weiks, undergraduate at Western Michigan University


2009 Recipients

The 2009 Educational Endowment scholarship recipients:
Vincent Pontillo, Undergraduate student at State University New York, Buffalo
Davina Romansky, Undergraduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology
Rachel Shimpock, Undergraduate student at Long Beach City College

Honorable Mention in 2009:
Elliot Gaskin, Undergraduate student at Academy of Art University, San Francisco
Andrew Kuebeck, Graduate student at Indiana University, Bloomington


2008 Recipients

The 2008 Educational Endowment scholarship recipients:
Eun Yeong Jeong, Graduate student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Soyeon Kim, Graduate student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Robert Longyear, Graduate student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Honorable Mention in 2008:
Gemma Draper, Graduate student at Cranbrook Academy of Art


2007 Recipients

The 2007 Educational Endowment scholarship recipients:
Masako Onondera, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Sun Kyoung Kim, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lilyana Bekic, San Diego State University

Honorable Mentions in 2007:
David Choi, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Kristi Sword, SUNY-New Paltz
Jennifer Halvorson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Tracy Lee Black, Indiana University


2006 Recipients

The 2006 Educational Endowment scholarship recipients:
Gary Schott, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduate student
Masako Onondera, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduate student
Kristi Rae Rader, Stephen S. Austin State University, undergraduate student

Honorable Mentions in 2006:
Sungyeoul Lee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Corey Ackelmire, Kent State


2005 Recipients

The 2005 Educational Endowment scholarship recipients:
Miel Paredes, University of Wisconsin, Madison, graduate student
Tzu-Ju Chen, Cranbrook Academy of Art, graduate student
Nichole Bowes, University of Kansas, undergraduate student

Honorable Mentions in 2005:
Eliana Arenas, New Mexico State University, graduate student
Nisa Blackmon, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, graduate student
Rachelle Lim, San Diego State University, undergraduate student
Ayuko Izumi, California State University, Long Beach, undergraduate student


2004 Recipients

The 2004 Educational Endowment scholarship recipients:
Megan Auman, Kent State University, graduate student
Kim Lucci-Elbualy, Kent State University, graduate student
Tzu-Ju Chen, Rhode Island School of Design, undergraduate student

Honorable Mentions in 2004:
Frankie Flood, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, graduate student
Hye-young Suh, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, graduate student
Christine Bossler, Wayne State University, undergraduate student
Swan Kim, Rhode Island School of Design, undergraduate student


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2011 SNAG Lifetime Achievement Award, L. Brent Kington

Author: Kris A. Patzlaff

Society of North American Goldsmiths has awarded the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award to Brent Kington, and honored him at the SNAG conference in Seattle, WA. Kington is being recognized for more than 40 years of significant contributions to the field as an educator, as well as his lifelong commitment to professional organizations and the art of blacksmithing.

Brent Kington was born in Topeka, Kansas in 1934. In high school he excelled in art and was encouraged to attend the University of Kansas, where he studied with Carlyle Smith and Robert Montgomery. Graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1957, he continued his study at Cranbrook Academy of Art under Richard Thomas. During his years at Cranbrook, his peers included Stanley Letchzin, Heikki Seppa, Fred Fenster and Michael Jerry.

Immediately after receiving his MFA from Cranbrook in 1961 Kington began the odyssey of resurrecting a failing metalsmithing program at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Equipment was sparse, but with little more than a few hammers, stakes and a buffing machine, Kington created a program that would become one of the most important metal programs in the country, most notably for blacksmithing.

During his early years in Carbondale, Kington’s work revolved around creating small, whimsical sculptures and toys cast in silver. Reflecting his early interest in cartoon drawings, his toys were humorous, playful and kinetic. The importance of movement and implied movement continues to be an element in his work.

It was in 1964, while attending the first World of Craft Council in New York, that Kington visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The visit to the arms and armory galleries of the museum would send him on a path that would forever change the direction of his work, the program at SIUC and the practice of blacksmithing in the country.

Kington was inspired by the work, noting the technical detail, rich surfaces and forms produced in iron that were as accomplished and thoughtful as works in silver and gold. Upon returning home, he collected as much information, books and tools as he could on blacksmithing. With very little written on the subject, Kington sought out local southern Illinois blacksmiths, including Ben and Jim Deal, in order to acquire information. From 1964 through 1969, he continued to learn about blacksmithing, devoting a week or two each month to this new skill, while creating other work for exhibitions.

In 1970, Kington and his students hosted a blacksmithing workshop at Southern Illinois University with Alex Bealer, author of The Art of Blacksmithing. Although it was expected to be primarily for his students, over 60 people attended, bringing together educators and craftspeople from all over the country. Attendees included Michael Croft, Stanley Letchzin, Nilda Getty, Richard Mawdsley, Garrett DeRuiter, Robert Ebendorf, Ronald Pearson and Bill Furhman, among others. This conference is considered seminal in bringing blacksmithing and iron into the arena as a viable material and process for contemporary expression. A number of conferences followed at different venues, with greater attendance, leading to the formation of ABANA, the Artist-Blacksmiths Association of America.

By 1976, the conference returned to SIU, bringing 490 attendees from across the U.S, Italy, England and Canada. Kington and graduate students Jim Wallace, Daryl Meier and Joel Schwartz, along with the Director of Art and Exhibits at the SIUC University Museums, organized an unprecedented exhibition of contemporary and historical ironwork, Iron Solid Wrought/USA, which later traveled to the Museum of Crafts in New York and the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian. It was also during this time that Kington and his students were exploring and conducting research on pattern welded steel and mokume-gane.

By 1972, the first university-taught blacksmithing classes were offered at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, which offers the only MFA in Blacksmithing in the country. The blacksmiths studio was designated the “L. Brent Kington Smithy” in 2003.

Kington was now committed to his ferrous metal work, sharing information in the University smithy and working in his studio, leaving his cast silver toys and objects behind. Creating a series of works, including weathervanes, the Icarus series (early 80s) and the Croziers, Crescents and Spires series (mid 80’s to the present), Kington pushed the art of blacksmithing as a sculptural medium, exploring alternative surface treatments and elements of movement or implied movement.

Kington’s extensive exhibition record includes venues across the country and abroad. Most recently, a retrospective exhibition entitled L. Brent Kington, Mythic Metalsmith opened in 2007 at Southern Illinois Art Gallery in Whittington, Illinois. The exhibition, curated by Debra K. Tayes, traveled to the Illinois State Museum, Chicago Art Gallery in Chicago, the Southern Illinois University Museum in Carbondale, the National Ornamental Museum in Memphis, TN, the Illinois State Museum in Lockport, and ended its tour in 2011 at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. This retrospective featuring more than 45 years of work, brings together pieces from private and permanent collections for the first time. Kington worked closely with Tayes for two years, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces Initiative. A beautiful catalog accompanied the exhibition.

His work is in many permanent collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, The National Ornamental Museum, Society of Contemporary Crafts, Friendship Hall in Nakjo, Japan, and the Mint Museum of Art + Design, among others.

A major contributor to the American Studio Crafts Movement, Brent Kington received the prestigious “Gold Metal” from the American Art Council in 2000. He has been honored with the Outstanding Artist Educator Award in 2009 by Penland School of Crafts, the Lifetime Member Award in 2006 by the Artist–Blacksmiths Association of North America, and awarded the American Craft Council Trustee Emeriti in 1994. Other honors include: Artist-Blacksmiths Association of North America’s Bealer Award for Distinguished Service in 1983, the National Endowment for the Arts’ Craftsmen Fellowship in 1982, the American Craft Council’s Academy of Fellows in 1978, and the National Endowment for the Crafts’ Craftsmen Fellowship in 1975.

In recognition of Kington’s contributions to blacksmithing and as an educator, an anonymous artistic foundation donated $1 million to SIUC to create the L. Brent Kington Chair in Blacksmithing. Richard E. “Rick” Smith, head of the metalsmithing specialization in the School of Art and Design and a former graduate student, was the first to hold the Chair. This endowment supports research, travel and materials.

Kington’s long-term commitment to professional organizations in the field began as a founding member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths. Serving from 1970-1973, he was the first President and served as Director from 1973-1977. The many organizations in which he has served include the National Ornamental Museum as a trustee from 1987-1997, the Artist-Blacksmiths Association of North America as Director from 1976-79, and the American Craft Council as Trustee from 1976-1980. He currently serves on the Resource Committee for the National Ornamental Museum and the Program Advisory Committee at the Kentucky School of Craft in Hindeman, KY.

The list of Kington’s students who have become successful metalsmiths and blacksmiths, whether owning their own business or becoming educators themselves in universities, craft programs and museums across the country, is enormous. Leading by example, Brent Kington’s service to SNAG, ABANA and the metals community at large was an inspiration to those who studied with him. Many have chosen to serve SNAG and other professional organizations through committee and board service. Graduates of SIUC Michael Croft, Mary Lee Hu, Harlan Butt, and Kris Patzlaff have all served as Presidents of SNAG.

Brent Kington’s life story is engaging. To gain an in-depth appreciation for the magnitude of his contributions to the field I suggest reading the transcript of an interview conducted by Mary Douglas for the Archives of American Art, Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, for the Smithsonian Institution.

The catalog of photographs and essays from the retrospective exhibition L. Brent Kington, Mythic Metalsmith is available through SNAG.

Brent Kington retired from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1996. He continues to have an active studio practice in Mikanda, Illinois where he lives with his wife, Diane.