Archive for June, 2015

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2015 Volunteer Recognition Award

Harriete Estel BermanInspired by the numerous volunteers who dedicate countless hours to SNAG every year, the Board of Directors created The Volunteer Recognition Award to publicly acknowledge and honor volunteer contributions to the highest extent.

SNAG is pleased to announce that the first recipient is Harriete Estel Berman. Harriete has been an active volunteer for SNAG for well over 10 years, and a SNAG member and supporter for even longer. Harriete is best known in the community for her outstanding work on the Professional Development Seminar Leadership Committee which she was part of for many years before becoming its Chair. Harriete’s keen interest in professional practices and development opportunities for our field as well as her untiring outreach efforts to every segment of the metalsmithing community make her an exceptional leader and referred to voice in our field. Her open ear for current topics and her critical eye towards providing quality information have paved the way for many of our members’ success stories. In her untiring dedication to always deliver excellence on behalf of the Professional Development Program, Harriete is the epitome of volunteer commitment, and the reason why we are so immensely grateful for her service.

Harriete received the 2015 Volunteer Recognition Award during the Membership Meeting at the SNAG Conference in Boston, MA.

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Board Members Speak: Nicole Jacquard

What brought you to wanting a board position?

It was really a combination of things, however, I remember in particular at the Houston conference Billie Jean Theide addressing the audience about the importance of volunteering for SNAG and how these positions are invaluable for the organization. And it is not until you find yourself in a volunteer position you really begin to understand the larger picture of what the organization is all about. So my first volunteering position for SNAG was serving on the Exhibition Planning Committee. And once my time with that committee was about to end I thought that maybe I could help at a different level and in a much more significant way.

Nicole_JacquardMy decision to run for President and serving on the board was also preempted by the feeling that over the years I have heard from many people that SNAG was simply becoming too large, impersonal, expensive and out of touch with the members…. it seemed that in order to help facilitate change – it has to come from within and people need to stand up and actively take a part or want to be a part of that change.

Overall I think it is a very exciting time to be on the board. It seems there is some real need and desire for transformation and I am honestly looking forward to seeing how this creative group of people that make up the board can help the organization and membership grow together in new and exciting ways.

What are your plans for board participation (your committee assignment)?

I have just become the current President. After being elected last May, I spent the past year shadowing our Past-President Renee Zettle-Sterling. This shadowing included learning the many facets that make up SNAG. I quickly realized there was a lot about the internal structure of the organization I was not aware of. So initially it was simply finding out how many different committees there are – who is currently serving on them and who will be ending their service. It also involved becoming aware of what initiatives have been suggested in the past, how we can think dynamically about programming and services for the future, as well as what needs to evolve with the current structures of the organization in order to facilitate change that will best serve ALL the members and their diverse needs.

In particular my activity serving on the board so far has included conversations and implementation of actions in the areas of Strategic Planning, Board Governance, the overall budget, future conference planning including SNAG Next, and fundraising.

What exciting, interesting, confounding things are you doing right now (in your life other than being on the board)?

Over the past three years I have become very interested in research initiatives that focus on STEM education – Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. By collaborating with several other departments on the campus at Indiana University, I have learned there is a huge shortage of women in these fields and there is significant effort to determine why and when there is a drop out point. For the past several years we have been implementing the idea of STEAM — the introduction of ART – through workshops, demonstrations and other community programs, focusing on a different approach to teaching the same concepts and ideas. There are three main workshops that I have been a part of and have helped develop which have continued to grow in concept and scope.

  • For the past four years my graduate students and I have been running a workshop called Successorize at our local community college IVY Tech. Successorize teaches middle school girls how to design jewelry using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software along with Rapid Prototyping (RP) to manufacturing their ideas. Over 5 days the girls learn the basics of Rhino, produce objects in addition to developing a company, the company logo and slogan, conduct a cost analysis of their products to figure out their overhead and payment for employees – which is then all compiled and presented as a Power Point to a banker at the end of the week.
  • Another fun workshop designed to explain simple circuitry is making interactive Voodoo dolls. By using conductive threads and fabric participants ‘wire up’ their dolls so when pierced with a pin LED’s illuminate particular parts of the body. Once the basic premise of the circuit is understood many people go on to make interactive t-shirts, hats and other wearable articles of clothing.
  • Also in its fourth year I have co-hosted with the Computer Science/Informatics department at IU, is creating your own Electric Guitar. Again using CAD and a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Router, participants cut various profiles of guitars and then customize body designs and head stocks. In addition they have outfitted their guitars by rapid prototyping unique guitar knobs and picks.

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Eight Lessons from the 2015 SNAG Conference

by Monica Moses, American Craft Council

Thank you to American Craft Council, who wrote and posted this article on their website and gave us permission to repost it here!

SNAG-2015The annual conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths took place in Boston May 20-23. The theme was “Impact: Looking Back, Forging Forward.” Here are eight lessons we took away from it.

Metalsmiths welcome other points of view. Main conference speakers Ruudt Peters, Liesbeth den Besten, and Helen Carnac are all from across the Atlantic. Michael Strand is American, but a ceramist. Joyce J. Scott from Baltimore often works with beads, but let’s face it, her sardonic, earthy, perspective (“I want to be in the stanky part of my art”) is not the mainstream. All were warmly, if not effusively, received. There were several standing ovations.

Many artists approach their work from a place of protest. Strand, who calls himself a “conceptual production artist,” brings together communities for social change. “We are constantly pressed down to be efficient,” he said in his dynamic talk, “and I can’t effing take it. Good things come from inefficiency.” Said Scott, who has explored sexual brutality in her work, “Now that men are being raped, maybe they’ll do something.”

Craft as an object is overrated, and, as a practice in the world, underrated. “Craft is far more meaningful than the anesthetized potential I was trained in,” said Strand. Another nugget from him: “It’s a false premise that people will care more if we make a better object.” Sam Aquillano of the Design Museum Boston, Jason Talbott of Artists for Humanity, and Gabriel Craig of The Rehabilitation Project all spoke to the potential of craft to change lives.

Making a living as a metalsmith may require herculean determination. There were two 90-minute Professional Development Seminars. “A unique, well-made body of work is just the beginning, just the baseline,” SNAG board member Brigitte Martin said in her introduction to the first. Goldsmith Ezra Satok-Wolman spoke convincingly of his tireless efforts over years to perfect his craft, promote his work, and establish his brand. “I learned how to deal with rejection,” he said, “an incredibly important part of my development.” His parting advice to jewelers: “Don’t worry about what others think of you. Unless they’re standing in front of you asking the price of something, it doesn’t matter.” Veteran jeweler Jim Binnion was equally sobering. Running a jewelry small business “is going to take every waking moment of your life if you’re going to make it.”

Metalsmiths, like so many artists, often have to overcome themselves to do their best work. Early-career artist Yong Joo Kim said she struggles frequently to “overcome the limitations of my own imagination.” In the same vein, mid-career metalsmith Hoss Haley reflected, “As makers we can get stifled by our own crap.” Avery Lucas has “learned my work does not need to be confined by what I thought I was capable of making.” Boris Bally, who stressed planning and networking, urged metalsmiths to keep their eyes wide open for opportunities. “The next worthy pursuit will appear in your periphery,” he said.

The public lacks an educated eye, but there is no consensus about how to fix that. “Society is uneducated,” said Dutch jeweler Ruudt Peters in his keynote. “Jewelry could be different.” But Binnion, always trying to make a living, was philosophical about the problem: “You can’t educate your customer into liking your work,” he said.

The display of jewelry in galleries and museums is problematic. Early in his career, Peters had male models wear his pieces at an exhibition opening. For the subsequent month, the jewelry was visible on jackets hung up in the gallery. Jewelry is challenging for curators because it is small relative to other objects. Emily Zilber and Emily Stoehrer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, summed up the challenge: In a museum gallery with 18-foot ceilings and large paintings and sculpture, “How do you show small, intimate works and have them have the same power?” Liesbeth den Besten’s talk, “Lonely Objects: Jewelry in the Museum,” was focused on the challenges of jewelry display. “Human hands once made these objects,” she said, but “in a museum they become isolated….There is nothing enchanting about a piece of jewelry in a showcase,” she said. “We simply don’t know the best way to present jewelry.”

Artists are idiosyncratic, and that’s what makes them so fascinating. “When I make something, it’s not linear,” said Peters. Yeah, no kidding. His talk was a whirlwind, recounting the different phases of his career, connected by a logic only he could explain, which he did, in an unaffected, almost sweet way.