Part 2: Voyeurism
J. Fred Woell, "Democracy Speaks" (brooch) 2003, mixed media:
wood, copper, brass, steel, nickel. paper, plastic, 2 1/4 x 3 x 3/8"
The Lifetime Achievement Award Winner this year was J. Fred Woell.
Like many attendees, this is a lecture that I often skip. If you saw
Stanley Lechtzin’s “This Is Your Life” back in Philadelphia, you’ll
understand why. Snark aside, this year I regretted missing Woell’s.
His work, like Ebendorf’s, had a strong influence on me as an
undergraduate jewelry student many years ago. Also, by the end of the
conference I was feeling overly sappy about some things. More on this
later. I was simply under slept at the time, and spent much of the
early conference mitigating my own apathy.
I made it to Garth Clark’s lecture, stumbling in and feeling a little
embarrassed having missed the Lifetime Achievement Award. This walk of
shame in the lecture room is nothing new. I had anticipated Clark's
lecture eagerly--whether I would agree with him or not, it's never bad
to have someone stir the pot on the first day. Not only did he
immediately address our host-state’s deplorable legislative behavior, especially lately,
he also addressed the topic that has plagued studio jewelry since the
post-90’s slump. While other studio craft fields expand, diversify, and
flourish, we seem to be the last to bloom. This is a topic Clark has
addressed often given his attempts to open a cross-over gallery for both
ceramics and studio jewelry many, many years ago. It became evident
that the “fine art” market was more willing to embrace ceramics at that
time, and we never fully resolved that issue in studio jewelry. Clark’s
take home lesson of the lecture is to address our phobias regarding
design, and learn from the larger fashion/design world of the last
decade. It has grown to challenge the expectations of design, earn the
respect of the fine art world, and continues to produce work that is
technically and materially diverse. Additionally, design does this
without rejecting commercial success. This theme of embracing, rather
than sneering at the commercial world, while maintaining autonomy,
creativity, and diversity, became a major theme of the conference. And
while some, including an inarticulate question-er at the end of the
lecture, seemed to take offense at Clark’s advice, I found myself
chewing on it as it thread through the rest of the weekend. Read more on Crafthaus...