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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.


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Lifetime Achievement Award

LAA 400Nominations for SNAG’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award are due December 1, 2018. This is SNAG’s highest honor and is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of metalsmithing.

Any member of SNAG may nominate someone for the Lifetime Achievement Award. The nominees do not have to be SNAG members. Along with filling out the nomination form, there must be letters of support from 3 additional SNAG members.

Learn more and make a nomination

 


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2018 SNAG Lifetime Achievement Award, Sharon Church

Sharon ChurchSNAG is pleased to announce that the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Sharon Church.

Attuned to the power of adornment and its rituals, Sharon Church creates technically masterful jewels that address endurance and vulnerability. In her work, fragments of the natural world are rendered to address the beauty and impermanence within our own lives. A tireless champion of the potential and value of making, Church has enriched the contemporary practice of metalsmithing by welcoming and mentoring generations of makers to take risks and forge new connections through an ancient practice.

                           – 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Committee

Sharon Church received a B.S. in 1970 at Skidmore College and an M.F.A. in 1973 at the School for American Craftsmen, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Church grew up watching her mother doing craft work and wearing jewelry. She was inspired to take some jewelry courses in college. After working for a time as a secretary and making jewelry in the evenings at home, she pursued an M.F.A. at RIT.

She is known for her exquisite carved jewelry, which incorporates materials such as bone and wood. Her work has been included in over 70 exhibitions, represented by over 20 galleries across the United States, and is found in many private and public collections.

Church is now retired from teaching, having received the prestigious James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Educator Award. Between 1979 and 2014, she taught at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, formerly the Philadelphia College of Art. She has also been an instructor at Skidmore College, Arrowmont, Penland and Haystack.

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2017 SNAG Lifetime Achievement Award, Helen Shirk

SNAG is pleased to announce the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Helen Shirk.

Helen ShirkHelen Shirk and her twin sister Judy were born in January 1942 and grew up in Buffalo, New York. Their father was a doctor serving overseas at the European front when they were born. In 1975 Helen moved to sunny southern California where she taught jewelry/metals at San Diego State University for 35 years, made metalwork in her studio, raised her son Nathaniel, and planted many hundreds of botanicals in her garden.

Shirk received her undergraduate degree from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she was fortunate to take classes in painting, enameling, and jewelry, taught by well-known jeweler, enamelist and painter Earl Pardon. In 1962 she had her first piece accepted to a national exhibition, Young Americans ‘62 at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, in New York city. Shirk graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1963, and spent the next year in Denmark on a Fulbright Grant that Professor Pardon had encouraged her to apply for. In 1967 Shirk returned to the U.S. to enter the MFA program in metalsmithing and jewelry design at Indiana University, headed by prominent jeweler and silversmith Professor Alma Eikerman. For Shirk, Eikerman was a persuasive model of an inventive, skilled artist/craftswoman, and an inspiring, demanding teacher. Shirk received her Masters of Fine Arts degree from Indiana in 1969.

Helen Shirk-1979-Silver-DecanterAfter teaching metalwork at IU and the Des Moines Art Center for several years, in 1975 Shirk received a faculty appointment to teach jewelry/metalwork in the School of Art and Design at San Diego State University. She set up her home studio and taught at SDSU for 35 years, retiring as Professor of Art Emeritus in 2010. During these years Shirk actively invested herself in the advancement of the SDSU metals program and its students, encouraging each student’s unique artistic voice, developing their range and expertise with traditional and contemporary metal techniques, and promoting innovation and professional excellence.

In her own studio Shirk has worked with both jewelry and object formats, exploring a broad range of materials and innovative processes to express her ideas. Her work gradually shifted from the cool sleek silver objects she made in the ’70s to a more personal approach and larger scale through the ’90s. Her Double Bowl series, begun in 1987, examines the relationship of two symmetrical parts and the unique expression of those parts within or without each other. Other works observed patterns of growth in nature, beauty and resiliency, tenuous structures, and inevitable disintegration.

Helen Shirk-1995-Sustaining-Spirit-XVShirk became recognized for her use of spray etching, patina, and colored pencils on large spun and hammered vessels. A later series of exuberantly colored botanical vessels reflects the lasting impact of her 1993 teaching exchange in Western Australia and the influence of her home territory of southern California. Most recently, she has returned to the intimacy of jewelry, using the strength and lightness of mild steel to create intricate ‘thickets’ for the body.

Shirk has lectured and taught in both the U.S. and abroad and her distinctive metalwork resides in the public collections of museums in the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, Italy, and Russia, to name a few. The international renown of Helen Shirk’s work and teaching helped sustain the San Diego State University Jewelry and Metalwork Program for 35 years, bringing students and colleagues from across the US and abroad to study or visit SDSU. Shirk’s skillful and expressive use of various metal coloring and surface altering techniques, ranging from anodizing, chemical patination, acid etching, and plating, to colored pencils, altered hammers, and china paint distinctively identify her pieces, both large and small. Her resume reads as a record of the most significant national and international exhibitions and publications in the field of jewelry and metalwork. Even such an extensive and impressive resume reflects only a small part of her significant legacy to the world of metalsmithing and the lives of many grateful and accomplished students. – Sondra Sherman, 2016

Helen Shirk-2014-Neckpiece-NP7-Fronds-Pods-jpgShirk received National Endowment for the Arts Craftsmen’s and Visual Artists’ Fellowships in 1978 and 1988 respectively. In 1989 she was named Master Metalsmith of the Year, a Distinction awarded by the National Ornamental Metals Museum, and in 1999 was honored to be designated a Fellow of the American Craft Council.

Shirk’s work resides in the permanent collections of museums in the U.S. and abroad, including: The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Australia; The Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C; Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, NY; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England; National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan; the Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim, Germany; the Museo Del Gioiello in Vicenza, Italy; Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, CA; the Helen Drutt Collection at Huston Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX; the Oakland Museum in Oakland, CA; the Mint Museum of Craft and Design in Charlotte, NC; the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, PA; the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, HI; the Museum of Art and Design in New York, NY; the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, TN; the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indianapolis, IN; the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA; and the Minnesota Museum of Art in St. Paul, MN.

The 2017 SNAG NEXUS: A Connection of Ideas conference will be dedicated to Helen Shirk and she will receive her award during the opening remarks in New Orleans, Louisiana on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017.


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2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

LAA 400The Lifetime Achievement Award is SNAG’s highest honor and is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of metalsmithing.

SNAG is seeking nominations for its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.  The recipient will be honored at SNAG’s ‘NEXUS’ conference in New Orleans in May 2017. Any member of SNAG may nominate someone for the Lifetime Achievement Award.  The nominees do not have to be SNAG members.

Deadline for nominations is January 13, 2017.

Learn more and submit a nomination>>>