From the Field
Written by Harriete Estel Berman
It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of Marjorie Schick. This is a devastating loss to the craft and metal arts community. My memories of Marjorie are, in every sense, colorful. I’m sure that many others would agree. She wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
You might remember Marjorie from her bold and colorful attire with bright fuchsia hair or gigantic jewelry. While it might seem superficial to mention this first, Marjorie’s appearance was simply her first statement. When she walked into a room, she and her artwork were seen.
At right: Marjorie Schick, Rainbow Riot, necklace and wall relief; necklace: 2008, wood, waxed linen, paint; wall relief: 2011, wood, paint; photo: Gary Pollmiller
The jewelry and objects Marjorie created were statements of visually large proportions. The display of the jewelry was often integral to the work, not unlike the person herself. Placing Schick jewelry in the average display case was out of the question. It could not be contained within normal definitions or expectations for jewelry, either literally or figuratively.
Marjorie did not follow conventions or fashion or dictates of shifting trends. She followed her own singular path. Nothing was quickly thrown together or thoughtless. Her creative expressions of paper mache or fabric were painted, and painted over and over again with layers of nuance. The color palette was developed with an eye for combinations, hues, and tones that could not be rushed.
Each year for the SNAG conference, Marjorie would create a small group of about 12 “pins” to give away. If you have one of those pins, you will always know that it came from Marjorie Schick. Each year they were different, reinvented, and always memorable. A photo of a few of these pins accompanies this post to share them again with everyone.
Marjorie represents a piece of history within the jewelry metal arts community. She was a font of knowledge going back to the 1970s. She traveled the world and exhibited her work internationally. A few years ago I was wearing a piece of jewelry that my parents had found in an East Coast antique store. They knew that I would love it, and I did, but when Marjorie saw it, she identified it as an example of Caroline Broadhead’s production work from the 1980s.
What happens when we lose a person that is such a significant presence in jewelry history? We have lost much. You can read an Oral History Interview with Marjorie Schick or listen to an audio excerpt with Tacey A. Rosolowski in the Smithsonian Archives. Another option is to purchase her book The Jewelry of Marjorie Schick which contains an entire Oeuvre Catalog of everything she ever made. I recommend doing both.
Thank goodness that these resources exist, but it won’t be the same going forward without Marjorie.
Marjorie you will be missed.
Marjorie Schick, Spiraling Over the Line, 2008; photo: Gary Pollmiller
We regret to announce the passing of Ron Ho on September 7, 2017. Ho was a long-time SNAG member. He was a world-renowned jewelry artist and celebrated teacher. His work is in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Tacoma Art Museum. An oral history of Ho’s life is at the Smithsonian Institution.
In 2006, the Bellevue Arts Museum honored Ho by presenting 51 of his pieces in the exhibition and catalog Dim Sum at the On-On Tea Room – The Jewelry of Ron Ho.
Among other awards, Northwest Designer Craftsmen named him a Lifetime Award Member in 2006 and in 2007 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Seattle Metals Guild. In 2010 Ho was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Craft Council.
Read more about Ho’s life in the Seattle Times.
Northwest Designer Craftsmen are producing a video about Ho for their Living Treasures Project.
Jewelry of Ideas: Gifts from the Susan Grant Lewin Collection
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
2 East 91st Street, New York, NY
Reception and Collectors’ Conversation
November 16, 2017
Opening reception, exhibition viewing, and book signing with collector Susan Grant Lewin and contemporary jewelry scholar Ursula Ilse Neuman, who will discuss works on view. View full event details & purchase tickets.
November 17, 2017
Explore the world of contemporary jewelry design with esteemed scholars and renowned jewelers during this day-long symposium highlighting the exhibition. Hear from: Jamie Bennett, Doug Bucci, Helen Drutt, Iris Eichenberg, Thomas Gentille, Bruce Metcalf, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, Lindsay Pollock, and Kiff Slemmons. View full event details & purchase tickets.
Celebrating a major gift of contemporary jewelry from Susan Grant Lewin to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the exhibition features nearly 150 objects by over 100 modern and contemporary jewelry designers and makers from eighteen countries, from the late 1940s to the present. Lewin, a preeminent collector in the field, has acquired many significant and unique pieces during forty-plus years of collecting. These works were chosen as superb examples of the creators’ explorations of ornament and idea, social commentary and communication, and for their innovative use of materials, approaches to design process, and technique.
Jewelry of Ideas: Gifts from the Susan Grant Lewin Collection is made possible in part by the Rotasa Fund, Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), Gallery Loupe, Sienna Patti, William P. Short III, in memory of Nancy Jean Fulop Short, Helen W. Drutt English, Kim and Al Eiber and Ornamentum Gallery.
Featured Image: Tiara, Bracelets and X-Form Brooch from the Candy Wear Series (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA), 1999-2001; Daniel Jocz (American, b. 1943); Electroformed, assembled and soldered silver covered in electrostatically applied rayon flocking bonded with adhesive; magnets (clasps); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum,2016-34-49/51; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution
Lee Marshall, of Santa Cruz, CA passed away June 25, 2017. Marshall, a former SNAG member, was the founder of both Bonny Doon Engineering and Knew Concepts. Bonny Doon Engineering developed a series of hydraulic presses and tooling for shaping and forming jewelry. Knew Concepts sells saws designed by Marshall.
A full account of Marshall’s remarkable life can be found here.
74 entries have been received for the 2017 Halstead Design Challenge, some of which will be displayed in New Orleans during the SNAG conference.
We interviewed Halstead president Hilary Halstead Scott about the project. Below is what she told us:
This is your second year hosting the Halstead Design Challenge. Why did you feel like this was a worthwhile project to partner with SNAG on?
At Halstead, we were looking for a project to engage with as much of our jewelry making community as possible. Our primary philanthropic program to date, The Halstead Grant, is tailored to emerging artists. But, it’s important to us to connect with a larger group of makers at every stage in their careers. And, we wanted to do it in a fun and interesting way. Brigitte Martin suggested that we collaborate on a project a few years ago. She and I talked it over for about a year until this idea really started to take shape. We wanted to involve an active career maker as a third juror, so we invited Samantha Skelton to join the team as well.
The Halstead Design Challenge is consistent with the missions of both SNAG and Halstead. Collaborating on the challenge is the perfect way for both of our organizations to bridge different parts of the jewelry world and embody the community that we are promoting. Makers of every skill level, technique, price point, market segment and experience level are all part of this community. Metalsmiths have more in common that unites us than divides us and this project brings all of those elements together.
What insight did you gain about makers that wanted you to design another making challenge?
We were blown away by the enthusiastic response! We were nervous about how well the project would be received the first year. But, the kits sold out in 24 hours in our first challenge, Kinetic, to create a movable piece with a found object. It was unbelievable. Originally, we had action plans ready to promote the kit sales three, six and nine months out from the launch date. That’s funny in retrospect. This second year, we doubled the number of kits for the Memento challenge incorporating a photograph and they sold out in 48 hours. We’ve learned there’s a real thirst for this kind of project. We struck a chord with the need to connect and find common ground.
The novelty of getting the exact same items and seeing what other makers would make was really intriguing for people. Some artists had never worked with components before, so they were curious about how that would inform the finished product. The excitement of an exhibition slot was a big draw as well. Participants loved the egalitarian slant on the challenge since a brand new students’ creations could be featured right alongside the work of established masters in our field. Plus, it is a great fundraiser for SNAG through the kit revenues and part of the proceeds from the exhibition sales. So much to love!
How do you select the materials for the kits?
It was important that we include some raw material building blocks like sheet, blanks and wire that are the blank canvases of our media. But, we also wanted to include some pieces that would be clearly identifiable in the finished piece. This was part of the fun in viewing the submissions and the final exhibition. Viewers in the gallery took part in a scavenger-hunt-like experience. You could hear “a-ha” moments around the room as viewers found pieces they recognized from the kit display in the finished works and marveled at how the artists used them so creatively. Those discernible jewelry supplies created common threads that intertwined the exhibition pieces beyond the thematic level.
How does this project meet with Halstead’s mission?
Community is central to our mission. That was the motivation behind creating The Halstead Grant over a decade ago and it was the reason we wanted to add another more inclusive project now. It’s so important to us to engage with our jewelry community as peers and colleagues as much as we can as participants and not just observers.
How did you come up with the idea of using photos for the challenge?
Brigitte Martin brought this idea to the table when we were still in Asheville last year after the excitement of the Design Challenge exhibition at Blue Spiral. We were shocked and energized by the success of the event. All three of us were committed to continuing to incorporate a found object of some sort. In the first challenge, we found that the video clips demonstrating the kinetic element of each design submitted along with the pieces of jewelry added an important element to the project. We wanted to keep a representative part of the makers’ process in the exhibition as well. This year, instead of a video, participants are submitting a copy of the original photo that was used in the work.
If you were participating do you have a favorite photograph you would incorporate?
We talked a lot about memory when we were brainstorming for the project this year. I think photographs that conjure a particular experience or trip would be my first impulse. The textures and the visuals from that time and place extend beyond the frame of the photograph. It would be fun to give those thoughts a physical form. A photo that I love is from when my son was really little and we were on a great ski vacation. Skiing is a part of our family’s fiber. It’s really important to us and our time together. I took a picture of my skis, my husband’s skis and my son’s tiny little starter skis leaned up against the wall in our cabin. It still makes me tear up when I look at it. Happy memories.
What was one of the most surprising moments from the first challenge for you?
My first day of jurying the submissions. I was overwhelmed by the creativity of this community. The submissions varied widely and it was so much fun to see the individuality of each maker so clearly expressed through common materials. I asked my parents, the Halstead founders, to come into the office one day so I could show them the photos and videos of some of my favorites. We had a blast huddling around my monitor and clicking through the slide show. It was such a cool representation of what talented metalsmiths can do!
Are you already thinking of the next Halstead Challenge? Can you give away the next theme?
We’re definitely excited to continue with this project. I have no idea what the next theme will be. One of the most rewarding parts of this new journey has been the collaboration with Brigitte and Sam. These are such smart, talented women. I love our talks and the perspectives each of us bring to the table. I’m looking forward to our next brainstorming session and all the ideas that will burst forth. (There’s a lot of excitement and gesturing, so “burst” is a good descriptor.) I bet there will be beer, too. I can’t wait!