By Shannon Hoyt —
The Menomonie community is thriving with talented artists of all colors, shapes and sizes. University of Wisconsin–Stout Assistant Professor, Masako Onodera, refers to these creators as gems; artists cultivating beauty and diversity by integrating the mediums used in contemporary metalsmithing and jewelry design.
GEMS: Contemporary Metalsmiths and Art Jewelers in Menomonie, organized by Onodera, will include 12 UW–Stout students and four professional artists. Each participant will be displaying a piece that incorporates a broad spectrum of materials.
“Sometimes the material is not just a metal,” said Onodera. “And sometimes the sculpture, or object becomes a jewelry form. But the jewelry form is not there to adorn somebody; it is [there] to talk about the history of jewelry.”
Wood, fabric, plastic and even glass have been considered substance for construct. Onodera will also be showing a piece in the gallery as well, an art form breaking away from familiar concepts of simple metals and gemstones.
The work presented is not everyday jewelry. Instead, the pieces are exaggerated and warped in such a way that they evoke curiosity.
“What is jewelry? It is more of a research topic,” said Onodera. “The scale of jewelry is larger now. Anything related to the body we consider subject matter.”
Expounding upon this idea with her own, unique perspective is former UW–Stout student, Kamie Hoover.
“I graduated last December and I had a senior thesis exhibition where I took the symbolic meaning of flowers and placed them on faces to represent emotions.”
Hoover’s chosen piece exemplifies the emotions and feelings of existing as a wallflower. The relationship between object and person grows together, forming ideal connections that may have otherwise been overlooked.
Each piece shown in GEMS contradicts traditional metalsmithing and jewelry making. However, sterling silver, copper, brass and other metals are still utilized. The combination of materials through an artist’s work not only creates a unique design, but also captures the history of jewelry making and of what jewelry can become.
“I wanted to show what we are teaching at Stout,” said Onodera. “I wanted to share that with the local community, that we have really talented people.”
GEMS: Contemporary Metalsmiths and Art Jewelers in Menomonie is showing at the Heyde Center for the Arts in Chippewa Falls. The show is free and will continue through March 25.