Tuesday, August 19, 2008

metalsmith EIP

Yesterday, Gabriel posted on Conceptual Metalsmithing regarding an ongoing (critical) discussion of Metalsmith's most recent Exhibition in Print. I left the following comment on Gabriel's post, but wanted to include it here in case anyone missed it:

"Gabriel - thanks for bringing this discussion to everyone's attention.

I must admit that I had to go to the bookstore to pick up the magazine after I read your post because I let my subscription expire. Oops!

I only had the attention span to read through part of the discussion, but one of the major threads I noticed was the complaint that much of the work in the EIP wasn't made of metal. To that, I can only reply that there is a long history of jewelry made from other materials, and anyone who thinks that Metalsmith should cover only metal jewelry should pick up the book Africa Adorned.

But onto the bigger issue, which is SNAG itself. I don't think SNAG needs a name change so much as a reclarification of its mission. (What is SNAG's mission anyway?) There is no way that SNAG can please every category of jeweler/maker/metalsmith/etc. and its stupid for them to even try. If SNAG/Metalsmith wants to focus on conceptual or academically minded work, more power to them. If SNAG decides it wants to focus its energies another direction, that's fine too. If you're a SNAG member and you don't like the direction SNAG is heading in, either work to change the organization or start one of your own.

Ah, but I can hear the arguments forming now. SNAG's in debt, if they narrow their focus and lose membership, they will really be in trouble. This is where I think Metalsmith can take a lesson from American Craft. Instead of creating a publication that exists to serve a very, very small community, start to examine the ways in which art jewelry/metalsmithing are relevant to society as a whole.

We need art jewelry and conceptual metalsmithing just as we need other forms of art to help us navigate the world as it is and to examine the inconsistencies in our daily lives. If SNAG and Metalsmith did a better job of linking the objects we make to the larger world, the magazine would be far more compelling.

Perhaps I'd even take the time to renew my subscription."

(The above image, Hearing Implements by April Wood, appears in the current EIP.)

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