Some of the most innovative and influential women metalsmiths will be featured in an exhibit this fall at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. It’s fitting that UW-Whitewater host "Women of Metal" because of the role the campus has played in educating metalsmiths over the past 30 years.
"Women of Metal" opens in the Crossman Gallery in the Greenhill Center of the Arts Sept. 9 and runs through Oct. 18. All of the women featured have professional and educational ties to Wisconsin. On display will be artwork from many notable women metalsmiths, including pieces by Eleanor Moty, Mary Lee Hu, Komelia Okim, and Linda Threadgill.
"All of the women in this show have worked, or currently work, in Wisconsin public or private educational institutions," Teresa Faris, UW-Whitewater art professor and co-curator, said. "It is the force of these great women who make these schools and the worlds of art and craft great and they often go unnoticed, in certain circles, until there is an exhibition of this caliber to celebrate them."
"Visitors to the gallery will be treated to a carefully considered exhibition that brings together a prestigious "who’s who’ of women metalsmiths with Wisconsin connections," Crossman Gallery Director Michael Flanagan said. "From groundbreaking experimental artists like Eleanor Moty to the newer generation of artist educators including Teresa Faris, Yevgeniya Kaganovich and Jennifer Mokren, the exhibit will not fail to reward visitors with an unprecedented opportunity to view the history of women metalsmiths from Wisconsin."
A $25,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), a first for UW-Whitewater, is making the nearly eight-year dream of Faris and Susan Messer, UW-Whitewater art professor and co-curator, a reality. "It is very reassuring to know that the NEA supports this important project," Flanagan said. "We are looking forward to seeing the work of all these amazing women in one gallery."
In addition to the NEA grant, "Women of Metal" received an Art Jewelry Forum grant, which will be used to support the participation of Eleanor Moty, a metalsmith specializing in contemporary art jewelry. The Kohler Foundation, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation Mary A. Tingley Fund and the Bell Group/Rio Grande are also providing support.
Along with the exhibit, two significant humanities documents will be developed. There will be a comprehensive exhibition catalog with a corresponding scholarly essay, and an oral history archive of the artist participants. The essay, which will introduce and analyze the concepts central to the exhibition, will be written by prominent Wisconsin art historian Melanie Herzog of Edgewood College. The oral history archive, comprised of 60-90 minute interviews with each participating artist using video and text processes, involves UW-Whitewater undergraduate art students.
"The goals of the "Women of Metal’ exhibition are to represent and celebrate the art work of past and present women metalsmiths, to inspire and educate the artists of the future, and to increase public awareness of the contributions of these artists to the cultural history of Wisconsin," Messer said.
UW-Whitewater has had an impact on the field of metalsmithing in Wisconsin through the work of longtime faculty member Linda Threadgill, who retired in 2003 after more than 20 years of teaching. Threadgill, who now lives in Santa Fe, taught hundreds of students the complex skills needed to succeed in the world of metalworking. In her absence, Faris, who heads the metals area at UW-Whitewater, has continued to build on the strength of the program.
"The "Women of Metal’ exhibition is the culmination of more than a year's work by professors Sue Messer and Teresa Faris and a team of hardworking students," Richard Haven, interim dean of the College of Arts and Communication, said. "While the exhibition focuses on some of the outstanding women metal artists in the nation, the project also demonstrates the multifaceted ways students learn at UW-Whitewater and especially in our nationally accredited art department."
Highlights of the opening week include a visiting artist panel, studio workshops and illustrated lecture. Community outreach activities will also take place with a Whitewater High School and community metals exhibition at the Whitewater Cultural Arts Center Oct. 10-31.
The Crossman Gallery, free and open to the public, is located in the Greenhill Center of the Arts, 950 W. Main St., on the UW-Whitewater campus. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 6-8 p.m., Monday through Thursday evening; and 1-4 p.m. Saturday.
"Women of Metal" Opening Week Events: