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SNAG Celebrates: Tabitha Ott

SNAG Celebrates

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.

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.

Tabitha Ott_Fresh Plastic

A still from Ott’s solo art and fashion show “Fresh Plastic” at Tapp’s Arts Center, 2017


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.

Tabitha Ott_work

Examples of Ott’s repurposed plastic jewelry.

To learn more about Tabitha and her work, visit www.tabithaott.com


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Register Now for the 2019 SNAG Conference

Society of North American Goldsmith’s 48th Annual Conference – The Loop: Coming Full Circle
May 22nd – May 25th, 2019
The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL

SNAG-Loop-Chicago-logo-sm

Register by March 7th for early bird rates! Online registration closes April 25th.

SNAG is celebrating 50 years as an organization. To talk about where we are going, we must talk about where we have have been. SNAG’s 48th Annual Conference, The Loop: Coming Full Circle will celebrate SNAG’s first 50 years by focusing on the history of our field and SNAG’s vital place within that history. Along with presentations that look backward to explore significant moments and concepts in our history, both personal and collective, we will emphasize space for critical discourse, concepts/ideas, and technical presentations that speak to current questions and issues that exist in the field today.

SNAG is delighted to announce that noted curator, educator and writer Namita G. Wiggers will be opening our 2019 conference with a Keynote presentation entitled “Bending the Notes” that synthesizes histories of jewelry and craft in North America in a broader socio-cultural narrative that includes those who make and the work they make in conversation with those who write, curate, and sell.

Learn more about all of the activities that will take place at the 2019 conference and register today!


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“A View From the Jeweler’s Bench”

A View from the Jeweler's Bench_Nixon_CuratorA View From the Jeweler’s Bench: Ancient Treasures, Contemporary Statements runs February 14-July 7, 2019 at Bard Graduate Center Gallery, Manhattan, NY. This exhibition is curated by Sasha Nixon, who received SNAG’s 2017 Emerging Curators Grant. Traditional and current processes employed by jewelers will be displayed alongside contemporary and historical jewels and artifacts. Learn more


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Adriane Dalton Selected as Interim Editor for “Metalsmith” Magazine

SNAG has announced that its current Editor, Emily Zilber, is departing the organization and that Adriane Dalton will fill the position on an interim basis. Zilber’s last day will be January 31, 2019 and she will work closely with Dalton in the transition.

EmilyZilberZilber joined SNAG at the end of 2017 and oversaw the debut of a totally new editorial voice for Metalsmith Magazine while also introducing a companion publication, Metalsmith Tech. In addition, she oversaw publication of the 2018 Jewelry and Metals Survey (JaMS), SNAG’s annual photo review of jewelry and metals in contemporary art, architecture, craft, and design.

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to lead SNAG’s publications through these important transitions over the past year,” said Zilber. “While I remain committed to the continued success of SNAG and all of its efforts to support the jewelry and metals community I’ve decided to take my career in a different direction, starting a new position in February.”

“SNAG has been incredibly fortunate to have had Emily on staff as our Editor over this past crucial year for our organization and community,” said SNAG Executive Director Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith. “The response to the magazine’s new voice, the launch of Metalsmith Tech, and the publication of JaMS, has been overwhelmingly positive, and we largely have Emily to thank for that.”

Adriane Dalton editorDalton, who will take over editorial duties on February 1, 2019, is a writer, artist, curator, and educator based in Richmond, Virginia. She currently serves as Teen Programs Coordinator for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and teaches at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond and ART 180. She is a regular contributor to Art Jewelry Forum, where she interviews contemporary jewelry artists, curators, collectors, and gallerists.

“As sorry as we are to lose Emily, we’re very excited to have a writer, curator, and artist of Adriane’s caliber step in as Interim Editor,” said Rukenbrod Smith.

“As a metalsmith, art instructor, and arts writer, I’ve been a member of SNAG for over a decade,” said Dalton. “SNAG is incredibly important to our community, as are Metalsmith Magazine and Metalsmith Tech, and I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute during this time of transition.”


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2004 SNAG Lifetime Achievement Award, Imogene “Tex” Gieling

In the spring of 1950, after finishing her formal studies, Imogene “Tex” Gieling moved to San Francisco where she worked as a scientific illustrator in order to support her jewelry making. She took night classes with the great Israeli goldsmith, Victor Reis who stressed technique and taught her everything she needed to know about hammering.

The art community in San Francisco in the ’50s was easily accessible and included painters, sculptors and craftsman, but also architects, photographers and industrial designers. It was not only an open society, it was also open handed. There was plenty of work to be had and any work that was offered to Tex, she always took, whether she knew how to do it or not. If it was something she was not comfortable with, she had a wide range of artist-friends to call upon for help.

She was hired to make the trademark for the Diamond National Company and executed it in bronze, copper and enamel for their corporate office building on Market Street in San Francisco.

In 1955 Tex was invited to join the faculty of at UC Berkeley to teach design in the Department of Decorative Art. She had never taught before and had no credentials to teach so was reluctant to take the job. The university saw this as a plus and felt this would be good for the students since she wouldn’t be inhibited. At the same time, Tex finished her graduate degree in metal arts.

This job lasted until 1962 when the university phased out the department. She then dedicated herself full time to her jewelry, developing some new techniques. These experiments lead to receiving a commission from Objects USA, as well as representation in the Lee Nordness Gallery in New York City. She also worked with local architects fabricating fireplaces and memorial plaques among other commissions.

In 1965 Tex was invited to set up a Metal Arts Program at San Francisco State College (now University).  She taught at SF State until her retirement in 1990.

But while teaching at SF State in the ’60s, sit-ins and demonstrations brought police to the campus, which made teaching very difficult (with armed police in riot gear in the classroom). Tex went out on strike to show her strong opposition to this police presence. This led to the formation of a co-op with her students, off campus, where they could work without fear.

In 1971, Tex was able to buy a complex of old buildings where artists could live and work and which would become a real home for the co-op. The co-op was name Truesilver Union.


Thank you to SNAG Board Member Elizabeth Shypertt for providing this information. Elizabeth curated “Tex Gieling: Sixty Years” at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco, on view November 17, 2018 – February 24, 2019.