If you look at her web site and see her studio you can get a
better idea of what she is all about. It doesn't seem "gimmicky" to
me. Actually I think she is just plain obsessed with her work.
Agreed. Gimmicky would be if only the use of coins or other common
non-precious items like drywall screws, were the basis of the work.
That’s just a materiual and starting point, not the end of it all.
And in and of itself, it’s a statement about what precious materials
are. What is worth something (money, versus plain steel or copper
it’s made of, for example). The use of those materials makes a rather
complex series of statements all on it’s own. And then she takes
those elements, and uses them with great skill (and in great
numbers…), exploring virtually all sorts of possible iterations of
how they can be used, altered, abused, changed, etc, often again
exploring the whole concepts of value and preciousness that’s so
integral to the nature of jewelry making and metals. That’s not
gimmicky. That’s intense artistic exploration of an idea. If the work
were gimmicky just for it’s use of pennies, or whatever, then what
would we be saying about those folks who make everything they do out
of metal they’ve made to resemble wood grain. Or who cover everything
they make with countless little fused on grains of metal, often in
patterns that have been around for millenia, not one’s they’ve
originated. And while some granulated or mokume work may be a gimmick
or less than significant art, those who do it well are using it way
beyond just the technique or potential gimmick, as a vehicle to
express their art. To better get an idea of Ms. Webber’s vision
seperated from the misconception of “gimmick” the coins evoke, look
to the earlier works in more traditonal filligree technique. Gimmicky
would be using great filligree technique, same as has always been
done, to do yet more of the same floral and feminine sorts of jewelry
we can find in India or other places where traditional filligree is
done. Instead, what does she make? Well, first she reinvents her own
version of the filligree technique. And uses the resulting repeated
elements to make Tools. Saw frames. Screwdrivers. Etc. Items one
would never associate with being themselves, precious. Yet she turns
them into such. That’s not gimmicky. In fact, that’s not just waaay
cool. That, boys and girls, is art. And that’s why the University
faculty gave her an MFA degree for it all. Those things don’t just
get given away when you’ve spent enough money, you know. You have to
convince a graduate committee and facutly members that you’ve earned
it with your work. And all along the way you have to defend your
work to fellow students and faculty. She’s earned that degree, and
the work shows it.
Just a note. Use internet explorer to look at her site. I had touble
viewing much of it using firefox 3. Some of the site, including all
the thumbnails and image links, don’t appear for me with firefox. Not
sure why. But it works in internet explorer. In fact, I added an
addon to firefox that lets you switch rendering engines from the
firefox engine to internet explorer’s page renderer with a button
click in firefox. That too, allowed the page to work right. I’m not
sure what’s wrong, but that’s OK. Ms. Webber, after all, got a
degree in metals and jewelry, not web design. I suspect she’ll want
to fix her pages to work in all browsers when she gets the chance,
but at the moment, I believe she’s in the middle of moving to
Chicago, which no doubt will be taking her energy for a while.
I was also very impressed with her silver filigree tools and the
fact that they actually work!
If they didn’t, she’d never have been able to do some of the things
she’s done with them.
I was amazed at how young and talented she is. If she is this good
at her craft now where will she be in a few more years?
I’ll put my money on her being in a tenure track teaching job
somewhere at a decent college art department…