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SNAG Celebrates

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SNAG Celebrates: Agnes Ma

SNAG Celebrates

SNAG is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 and is honoring its membership by highlighting different artists on the SNAG website.

Agnes Ma
Introduce yourself (background, education, preferred mediums/styles, etc.)
My name is Agnes Ma. I received a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I was lucky enough that the School of Art and Design opened up classes to non-majors and was able to take a beginning metals class my last semester at UIUC, which happened to be my very first studio art class. I figured out how to transition from the sciences into the arts at Northern Illinois University where I ended up receiving an M.F.A. in Metalwork, Jewelry Design, and Digital Fabrication with a graduate certificate in Museum Studies. The generosity of my mentors and peers with their knowledge at NIU allowed me to learn exponentially in a very unfamiliar discipline.

In my work I tend to reference nature in some way to draw associations with human interaction with the environment and work in all different scales. More recently I created a large installation from essentially paper, cardboard, adhesive, and whitewash that viewers could walk through but also recently had some sterling silver earrings on view at Gallery 2052 in Chicago.

Agnes Ma work
A model showing a necklace by Agnes Ma

What are your goals in creating the work that you do? Are there any concepts you are particularly interested in?
I’ve always thought of art as a means of communication and a means for myself to learn. I tend to be drawn towards ideas that consider how humans interact with the natural environment. This allows for an avenue to educate myself as well as to advocate for more consideration in our daily lives.

What does your work mean to you? Why create these objects?
Artwork is meant to be experienced, which is why I’m often drawn to an installation format. Whether at a large scale or small, I want to create a moment that someone can linger and reflect on.

How and when did you arrive at your membership with SNAG?
I started my membership with SNAG as a student, about ten or so years ago. It was a chance to involve myself in a community I was newly a part of. I also saw an opportunity to learn from an entire community of makers, educators, and more. Every year I learn and see new things that I may or may not use in my own practices but gives me awareness of things outside of my immediate self.

How have you witnessed SNAG (and metalsmithing in general) evolve since first beginning your membership?
It may be a reflection of how my role has changed in SNAG over the years, but I’ve felt that the bulk of the community has become more and more welcoming to new participants and new ideas. This year’s conference, I especially felt the excitement and the willingness to engage with others. I hope to see more of this as we continue forward!

What are your plans for the future? Is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish or achieve in 2019?
My plans are simply to make. I plan on continuing with working with paper but on a smaller scale including works for the body.

Agnes Ma 1Agnes Ma 2

Agnes Ma 3

Examples of Ma’s environmentally-driven work

To learn more about Agnes and her work, visit agnesma.com/portfolio/


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SNAG Celebrates: Mando Bee

SNAG Celebrates
SNAG is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 and is honoring its membership by highlighting different artists on the SNAG website.

Mando Bee

Introduce yourself (background, education, preferred mediums/styles, etc.)
My name is Mando Bee! I graduated from Texas State University with a BFA in Metals/Jewelry in May of 2018. I have been working in Metals for about 5 years now. Before Metals, I was a 2D artist located in my hometown, San Antonio. I ran a collective, Sweet Peach, that focused on representing Women Identified/Non-binary artists. I use technology such as RhinoCAD 3D modeling software in collaboration with traditional metalworking.  I enjoy working with textiles and metals.  I have recently returned to my roots, including collaging and bookmaking in my practice.

Mando Bee earrings
A pair of earrings crafted by Mando Bee, as seen in artist’s portrait

What are your goals in creating the work that you do? Are there any concepts you are particularly interested in?
As a non-binary individual, I strive to make work that unapologetically challenges the expectations and exclusivity of contemporary jewelry. My toy-like bling lives to make viewers question its’ wearability, buyability, gender specificity, and purpose. The work does not exist in bubble and introducing jewelry that is a minor threat to the upper echelons transcends the contemporary expectations placed on adornment. That being said, I like to focus on challenging myself and the viewer with both aesthetic, concept, and complexity of my fabricated forms.

What does your work mean to you? Why create these objects?
Heck! What a loaded question. I suppose I see my work as the purest form of myself in this crazy world. It is a tangible extension of myself that can be experienced by many. My work is not only a means to live, but a coping mechanism for me. Creating labor intensive work is a way for me to fully engage in my craft and detach from my busy life. I wish to create objects that act as talismans to the wearer, that offer a sense of protection.  The relationship that these wearable objects create is a trinity involving the artist, the wearer, and the viewer. In this relationship, the work becomes an outward extension of all three.

How and when did you arrive at your membership with SNAG?
SNAG! What a wonderful organization. I was a junior in undergrad when my professor, Laritza Janiga, encouraged me to apply for the Student Scholarship for the Asheville conference in 2016.

How have you witnessed SNAG (and metalsmithing in general) evolve since first beginning your membership?
My very first conference was so exciting, and full of new connections. I was so new to metals and everything was covered in a glistening fairy dust. After my first SNAG conference I craved all the knowledge in the world and knew that metals was my calling. It’s only been 4 years, but I am thrilled to see a larger population of fresh voices join. The new generation of makers is a driving force that is the key to the future of craft and the organization. SNAG has taken steps to ensure the representation of that force; by providing more opportunities for makers of all ages. The new generation is armed with vitality, talent, and change. SNAG is making those steps to represent inherently marginalized individuals in the field, and that is what needs to happen to make sure craft doesn’t die.

What are your plans for the future? Is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish or achieve in 2019?
It has been a whirlwind since I graduated with exhibitions, opportunities, and experiences. I have been stewing on a new body of work that will be quite different from I have been working on for the past year. I am hunkering down in my lust for multi-sensory installations and sculpture, pushing myself to create large “adornments” that be can considered for the body and the wall as well. By the end of 2019, I hope for acceptance into a residency or a graduate program.

Mando Bee 1Mando Bee 2Mando Bee 3

Examples of Bee’s fantastical jewelry

To learn more about Mando and their work, visit mandobee.cloud

 


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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 different artists 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