Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Metallic-A Works in the Malleable Medium in the Spotlight at Society for Contemporary Craft Show

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Metallic-A Works in the Malleable Medium in the Spotlight at Society for Contemporary Craft Show

Article excerpt

Metal is the medium of focus at the Society for Contemporary Craft, but the international cast of exhibiting artists didn't let that restrict their expression in pieces that range from traditional to provocative.

"Transformation 8: Contemporary Works in Small Metals" is the kind of smart and engaging display that one has come to expect of the Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder's Prize Exhibitions. The biennial shows rotate among various craft media and draw entries accomplished and experimental from established craft artists and newbies alike.

Raphael Prize winner Meghan Patrice Riley, a California native who lives in New York City, creates airy jewelry that encapsulates space the way sculpture does, but also exists in a visually two- dimensional world. Juror Bruce Pepich describes her award-winning necklace, "Interstitial," as "a line drawing in space that floats on the body."

Ms. Riley's background in mathematics and statistical analysis informs the geometric shapes and the requirement of precision reflected in her pieces, but the ultimate excitement comes from the degree to which she breaks with that. The eye is drawn around and through her pieces in cycles that are as fascinating and unending as the basic Mobius strip form she employs. Construction that allows for a little slippage in joiner pieces introduces motion, as does the way the overall form adjusts to its placement upon the body for wear.

Six of the seven Riley works exhibited have sold, including "Interstitial," which was purchased for the society's permanent collection of more than 350 pieces.

Beside the purchase prize, Raphael winners are featured prominently in the Transformation exhibitions, a video is made of their working process, and they receive a $5,000 cash award. The Founder's Prize Exhibition was established in 1997 by Ms. Raphael's three daughters in honor of their mother.

The six-member "Transformation 8" jury comprised Mr. Pepich, executive director and curator of collections, Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; Natalya Pinchuk, an internationally exhibited jeweler who lives in Pittsburgh; Alexandra Raphael, metalsmith, who lives in London; Catherine Raphael, metalsmith and storyteller, of Pittsburgh; the late Margaret Raphael, former filmmaker and Hunker, Westmoreland County, resident; and Kate Lydon, society director of exhibitions.

The jurors had a tough time making the final cut and awarded an unusual second-place $1,000 cash prize to Mari Ishikawa, a native of Japan who lives in Germany, for her brooch, "Parallel World." The mysterious, intimately sized work is made of oxidized silver with introduced areas of handmade Japanese kozo bush paper.

Ms. Pinchuk says Ms. Ishikawa "is able to create a really complex interplay of surfaces and organic forms that in a delicate way reference moments where beauty and decay coexist in nature. …

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