Day 7: Metalsmithing and Craft in Contemporary Art

Our first visiting artist to ProtoStudio was Ashley Gilreath, a metalsmith and artist-in-residence at Lillstreet Art Center.  We met at Lillstreet for a demonstration and lecture with Ashley over two hours.  Ashley’s work utilizes the traditional techniques of metalsmithing learned from family members, while incorporating found objects and photographs that signal certain memories.  First, a couple images of her recent artwork:I Am Who They Were, 2011

Above: Cloistered, 2010.  Below: Devout, Educated, Happy, 2010Ashley gave the ProtoStudio group a demonstration in various metal working techniques and led the group through creating a simple ring or pendant.These are some of the final rings and pendants created by the students.

Prior to our meeting, I showed the students images of three artists that utilize traditional “craft” to draw attention to important histories of technique.Anna Nazzari‘s Casino Sisyphus draws on woodworking to create parlor games that can never be won.

Mung Lar Lam creates Ironings from discarded fabrics that reference the female labor that often supports (but goes unacknowledged by) minimalism.

Margarita Cabrera uses clay to sculpt Arbor de la Vida in a new spin on the traditional Olmec theme of the “Tree of Life” and draws equally on the labor status of immigrants in the United States.

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