SNAG is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 and is honoring its membership by highlighting a different artist each month on the SNAG website.
Our first artist is Tabitha Ott.
Introduce yourself (background, education, preferred mediums/styles, etc.)
I received my MFA in Jewelry/Metals from Kent State University in 2012 and my BFA in Sculpture: Jewelry/Metals from Winthrop University in 2008. Originally from Orangeburg, I now reside in Cayce, SC. Since 2014 I have been teaching full time in the Department of Art at Claflin University. My studio has been located at Tapp’s Arts Center in downtown Columbia, SC for the past two and a half years. I create contemporary jewelry and sculpture from post-consumer plastic along with various metals! I use plastic in my work because it is a common material we are all familiar with, from small children to the elderly. It has become such a large part of our lives and it is easily recognizable and relatable. No matter what age, race, gender, or class, we have all engaged with plastic at some point. I believe this makes my work approachable for anyone.
What are your goals in creating the work that you do? Are there any concepts you are particularly interested in?
My work is centered around concepts of recycling, environmental conservation, fun, childlike wonder, and humor. With each piece I make, I am aiming to transform the objects or materials into something different, often unrecognizable. I really enjoy the process of manipulating plastic and incorporating it with metal. I am very interested in the contrast created as a result of placing plastic (which has little or no value) next to a valued material (such as metal). With many plastics functioning as disposable, they are often used only once, but can last hundreds of years before decomposition occurs. I aim to challenge and reconfigure viewer stereotypes concerning the usage, value, and importance of materials such as plastic.
What does your work mean to you? Why create these objects?
My work is what fulfills me. I have had an interest in Art/Craft/Design for as long as I can remember. Communicating what my imagination comes up with just feels so natural and it’s something I must do. I create these objects in order to have an impact. We all want to be successful in life, and I have come to the conclusion that to me, success equals impact. I hope that my work will inspire the viewer to: 1. Reduce the amount of plastic they use 2. Reuse what plastic they must have 3. Recycle the plastic they are finished using 4. Repurpose the plastic that cannot be recycled 5. Question disposable culture 6. Consider plastic valuable
How and when did you arrive at your membership with SNAG?
I first joined SNAG in 2007 as recommended by Courtney Starrett, my undergraduate professor at the time. I went to my first conference in 2008 (Savannah) and after that experience, I knew that SNAG was something that I wanted to be a part of indefinitely. I have attended every conference since then and I’m still a member! I LOVE SNAG!
How have you witnessed SNAG (and metalsmithing in general) evolve since first beginning your membership?
Well for one, new technologies have really played a big part in the evolution of the field. There is a greater range in concept as well as formal aspects of the work being produced by members. Makers are addressing social issues, using a wider range of materials, and even creating work that blurs the boundaries of craft, design, and fine art. I think that SNAG as a whole is poised to become more diverse in the coming years. I am optimistic that we will see a greater representation of minorities in our organization in the future!
What are your plans for the future? Is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish or achieve in 2019?
2018 was a very busy year for me. I think I said “yes” to every opportunity thrown my way. In 2019 I would like to be more intentional with my decisions and spend more time working towards concentrated opportunities. I plan to continue growing my studio practice and creating work that challenges material stereotypes. I would also like to have a solo gallery exhibition before the end of 2019. In addition, increasing my online presence is of great interest to me this year.
Examples of Ott’s repurposed plastic jewelry.
To learn more about Tabitha and her work, visit www.tabithaott.com