Such an interesting and emotionally/intellectually charged topic
I am a member of SNAG, and have been for over 30 years. I, too, have
respect for the founders and their intentions for the organization.
I, too, believe that those intentions have been lost in the haze of
academic conceptual art and I would like to see the organization
re-embrace those original intentions, without, and this is
important, neglecting that portion of the membership that focuses on
the more esoteric and conceptual bodies of work. Although it may be
difficult, it is essential that all perspectives in our field be
welcomed into SNAG, all perspectives treated with respect and, most
especially, offered visibility/exposure via Metalsmith.
One of the problems with Metalsmith is that the focus has not been
inclusive. The magazine has wrapped itself up in a repetitive and
exclusive perspective that, in general, and especially in the
Exhibition in Print, neglects work by artists who are not involved
or enrolled (or previously enrolled) in academic institutions, whose
work is as they say, ‘out there’. One of the percs of those
involvements is the development of connections, and those
connections build layers and layers of support over the years.
Without that support, there might be fewer articles in Metalsmith
that cover work that is esoteric and perhaps, but not necessarily,
wearable, and more interest in work that is devoted to Excellence in
design and construction (though esotericism does not preclude
excellence. this is a hard discussion isn’t it!). I certainly do not
suggest an exclusion of any segment of the SNAG population that
chooses to join the community, whatever that segment may call
itself. I’m suggesting that Metalsmith is out of balance and has not
represented the make-up of the long term membership for a very long
time, and that, accordingly, the membership has tipped out of
balance as a result. The magazine ought to consider representing
artists/artisans as well as artist/designers.
I think as Brian suggests, the problem is also associated with the
names. SNAG and Metalsmith. The implications of both names is that
the work of the membership (and in the magazine) will reflect an
interest in gold and other metals. The expectation, when reading
Metalsmith, is that one will encounter work made in those materials.
The disappointment of some former members and many Orchidians is the
result of that unfulfilled expectation and, as such, is
understandable. And I believe that disappointment is at the root of
how emotionally charged this thread is.
There are, as many have suggested, other periodicals that cover the
making and art of jewelry, though not necessarily the art of design
or conceptual art as it applies to jewelry. Many of them cover
innovation in the field better than Metalsmith, as I’ve found that
Metalsmith tends to repeat themes and sometimes artisans regularly.
Most do not cover jewelry as sculpture as well as Metalsmith. Most
are not able to intelligently discuss the development of innovative
work as well as Metalsmith, and this is a major asset of those
aforementioned academic connections. This latter aspect of the
magazine is something that I do value. Talking about what we do (or
do not do), is interesting to me, and can be inspiring.
All of that being said, I intend to maintain my membership in SNAG.
I, too, along with Sam, love the conferences. When the Presentations
get too heady, I redirect myself to catching up with old friends,
viewing exhibitions (wonderful exhibitions), shopping in the vendor
room, attending demo’s, making connection, etc. I have volunteered
for projects many times with SNAG, including as Workshop Coordinator
for a long ago Boston conference. I developed a five year
fundraising project for SNAG’s Educational Endowment Program
(SNAGLinks) and at the recent Toronto conference participated as a
Portfolio Reviewer (now that was interesting and fun). In short, the
rewards of membership come from how one chooses to share one’s
skills and one’s presence. I am always inspired by the energy,
creativity, enthusiasm, friendships, skills, talents, community, and
membership of SNAG, and I bring that inspiration into the studio
with me. In fact, those percs are very much like what I get from
Orchid (and Ganoksin)!
And one more thought, and really it’s a question. is it possible for
one organization to include all the various approaches to making
adornment, as SNAG attempts to do? And MJSA? and… And, if
possible, how can a balanced inclusiveness be accomplished with an
all volunteer ‘army’.