5 Questions with Susie Ganch

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Susie Ganch
Nominating committee: Mid-Atlantic Region Committee / Consulting curators: Stefanie Fedor, Visual Arts Center of Richmond, and Megan Rook-Koepsel, independent curator

Susie Ganch in Heavy Metal; Photo: Sarah Baker

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

I love understanding the properties and characteristics of each metal that I work with. I encourage the material to do what it wants to do naturally. I feel like metal communicates so clearly. Over the years I’ve learned to listen carefully and respond accordingly. But that isn’t to say we don’t argue. Metal can be stubborn—but so can I.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metalfit into your larger body of work?

The work in Heavy Metal is pivotal to my studio practice today. These pieces were the first time I explored techniques and larger scales that were unfamiliar to me as a jeweler. Falling in Love: 1999 (2011–13) was the first time I used collected material rather than generating my own. Now, I often work with trash including used coffee lids, collected bottle and container lids, and other unwanted items easily gathered from my community. I connect my work to the outside world.

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Susie Ganch, Untitled, 2010; Steel, enameled copper, and panel, 24 x 36 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Sienna Patti Contemporary; Photo by Taylor Dabney

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Susie Ganch, Untitled (detail), 2010; Steel, enameled copper, and panel, 24 x 36 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Sienna Patti Contemporary; Photo by Taylor Dabney

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Susie Ganch, Untitled, 2007; Steel and cast plastic, 84 x 13 x 8 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Sienna Patti Contemporary; Photo by Taylor Dabney

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Susie Ganch, Untitled (detail), 2007; Steel and cast plastic, 84 x 13 x 8 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Sienna Patti Contemporary; Photo by Taylor Dabney

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Susie Ganch, Falling in Love: 1999, 2011–13; Mixed media, collected detritus, and steel, 12 x 62 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Sienna Patti Contemporary; Photo by David Hunter Hale

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Susie Ganch, Falling in Love: 1999, 2011–13; Mixed media, collected detritus, and steel, 12 x 62 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Sienna Patti Contemporary; Photo by David Hunter Hale

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

As an artist my most essential tool is my curiosity. In the studio, I am driven to create things that I would not otherwise see, to understand things I can’t fully grasp. This is my drive as an artist. Any physical tool would be useless without this state of mind.

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

Inspiration and influence change as my work changes over time. These days, I am often motivated by my concerns for the environment and our collective habits of consumption.

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

The Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University recently held its grand opening with Declaration. I was incredibly moved by Cassils’s Inextinguishable Fire (2015) and Paul Rucker’s Storm in the Time of Shelter.

Earlier this year I saw Unspeakable: Atlas, Kruger, Walker: Hammer Contemporary Collection and was overwhelmingly moved by Kara Walker’s work. The American Folk Art Museum’s exhibition War and Pieced was a moving display of the power of material and the healing force of craft.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

Artist Spotlight: Lola Brooks

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Lola Brooks
Nominating committee: Georgia Committee / Consulting curator: Sarah Schleuning, Dallas Museum of Art (formerly of the High Museum of Art)

Lola Brooks with her works in Heavy Metal; Photo: Sarah Baker

Self-adornment through jewelry has a long history. That fascinating history is something that profoundly interests artist Lola Brooks. “I believe in the power of jewelry’s intimate scale and symbiotic reliance on the body, and the fact that its beauty and materiality have always been poisoned by a shameless celebration of wealth, excess, and debaucheries,” says Brooks.

Brooks is known for her large and enigmatic wearable pieces, five of which are featured in Heavy Metal. Each contains some of the artist’s favorite motifs including hearts, roses, ruffles and bows—all classic romantic symbols. However, Brooks’s works contain a subtly edgy and dark quality. Take the dripping tear edged in vermillion coral in the heart of sacredheartknot (2015) or the macabre quality of the dead quails in twointhehand (2015), chained in an endless embrace.

Some of the interesting materials like these taxidermy birds come from Brooks’s interest in collecting everything from vintage accessories, potted meats, and plaid pantsuits. Another work, byebabybunting (2015), features a children’s vintage rabbit fur muff and antique ivory. “I find power in accumulation,” says the artist. ”It is an inextricable piece of who I am in the world. With only a few things, I tuck them away to keep safe…If I am lucky, they will become a hoard.”

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Lola Brooks, byebabybunting, 2015; Vintage child’s rabbit fur muff, stainless steel chain, 14-karat gold solder, diamonds, and hand-carved antique ivory with 14-karat gold, 5 x 5 x 2 in.; Collection of Marion Fulk; Photo by Sienna Patti

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Lola Brooks, four&twenty, 2015; Stainless steel, 14-karat gold solder, and champagne rose-cut diamonds, 4 1/2 x 5 x 2 1/4 in.; On loan from Allen and Irene Natow; Photo by Sienna Patti

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Lola Brooks, babiesbreath, 2015; Stainless steel, antique ivory roses, 14-karat gold, and champagne diamonds, 6 x 6 x 3 in.; Courtesy of Sienna Patti; Photo by Sienna Patti

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Lola Brooks, twointhehand, 2015; Male and female quail, walnut, stainless steel, 14-karat gold solder, and diamonds, 14 x 3 1/4 x 1 3/4 in.; On loan from Susan C. Beech; Photo by Sienna Patti

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Lola Brooks, sacredheartknot, 2015; Stainless steel chain, 14-karat gold solder, and Mediterranean coral, 13 x 11 in.; On loan from Allen and Irene Natow; Photo by Sienna Patti

Brooks combines these varied materials with metals and stones of different values including gold, stainless steel, silver, and diamonds, in a way that questions material hierarchy. She often inverts expectations, by using the more precious material such as gold as solder for stainless steel. In a culture that often measures jewelry’s value by the volume of its precious materials, Brooks upends expectations.

Brooks’s intricate works make viewers wonder, and that is precisely the artist’s intent. “I have tossed out the safety of the abstract in favor of the obvious,” says Brooks, “in hopes that people may dig a little deeper into what they think they understand, discovering the mysteries that my arrow is aimed at, buried alive somewhere within that saccharine shell of cliché.”

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

—Nana Gongadze is the 2018 summer publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Questions with Katherine Vetne

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Katherine Vetne
Nominating committee: San Francisco Advocacy for NMWA / Consulting curator: Jenny Gheith, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Katherine Vetne; Photo courtesy of the artist

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

Metal acts as a mirror when it is reflective. My use of high-gloss silver nitrate on melted lead crystal distorts the reflections of viewers as they peer into the surface of one of my sculptures. I also work in a Renaissance-era drawing medium called metalpoint. Using metal as a drawing tool creates the potential for an over-the-top level of precision that informs the sense of opulence in my work.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

My work in Heavy Metal builds on my current interests: mainstream womanhood, notions of desire, commodity culture, class, and excess. Using lead crystal as subject matter in my drawings and sculptures allows me to mine the history of still-life alongside an examination of the ways in which idealized (and distorted) forms of femininity are bought, sold, consumed, and mass-produced.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

Ebay. It’s a great tool for observing the detritus of our domestic culture. Most of the crystal I buy looks dated, and there often isn’t a demand for it. These objects become a burden on people. Lead crystal is technically valuable, and yet there is no market for other people’s unwanted heirlooms. Sometimes I suspect that I am the only one buying it.

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Katherine Vetne, Selling the Dream, 2017; Three lead crystal Avon pitchers, melted and mirrored with silver nitrate, 45 x 11 x 10 3/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by John Janca

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Katherine Vetne, Amassment, 2017; Eight lead crystal pitchers, melted and mirrored with silver nitrate, 24 x 48 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco; Photo by John Janca

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Katherine Vetne, Perfect Purity, High Resistance, Lasting Sparkle, 2017; Rose-gold metalpoint on toned chalk ground on paper, 21 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco; Photo by John Janca

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

I’m interested in cultural phenomena that symbolize oddness and excess. Currently I’m looking at competitive table-setting competitions, home decorating in the era of Reaganomics, and Louise Linton’s infamous Instagram post full of designer goods and hurt feelings. I also look up to artists Cornelia Parker, Lynda Benglis, Brett Reichman, Petah Coyne, Laura Krifka, Rachel Stern, and Clara Peeters.

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

I could have spent weeks wandering the galleries of the Michelangelo drawing show that was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last winter.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

5 Questions with Carolina Sardi

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Carolina Sardi
Nominating committee: Florida State Committee / Consulting curator: Diana Nawi, Pérez Art Museum Miami

Carolina Sardi, Photo: Mariano Costa Peuser

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

Metal allows you to do almost anything if you know how to work with it. I love that it is an industrial material that I can transform into objects, sculptures, and installations that seem organic and that can be viewed as a different material. That creates a sense of mystery that is important in art.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

The pieces chosen for Heavy Metal are from the series of my work called “Landscapes.” In this series I explore two-dimensional space with sculptural elements that I use in my other works. I create different layers by incorporating the painted background and the directional lines that I use to create my compositions on the wall. My works tell a story that can be interpreted in different ways by the viewer.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

My most essential tools are my brain and my heart. Materials and tools are secondary if you don’t have your heart and your brain to process and to express yourself.

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Carolina Sardi, Grandfather, Cricket and I, 2016; Plated steel over painted wall, 91 x 156 x 2 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Pan American Art Projects Miami; Photo by Mariano Costa Peuser

Carolina Sardi_ Black Holes_ Plated Steel over Painted Wall_96_ x 96_ x 2_ 2012_ Photo by Mariano Costa Peuser

Carolina Sardi, Black Holes, 2012; Plated steel over painted wall, 96 x 96 x 2 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Pan American Art Projects Miami; Photo by Mariano Costa Peuser

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

I draw influence from everyday life, my personal experiences, and my search for balance between opposites. I look for answers about why we are here, what are we made of, how the universe works, and how we interact with each other.

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

William Kentridge’s More Sweetly Play the Dance impacted me because of his use of repetition. Through layering drawing, movement, and music, Kentridge conveys that migration, illness, and death are inevitable, but humans continue to hope despite it all.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

5 Questions with Kerianne Quick

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Kerianne Quick
Nominating committee: Southern California Committee / Consulting curator: Bobbye Tigerman, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Kerianne Quick; Photo: Angie Ollman

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

Metal is an amazing shapeshifter that can be endlessly re-formed, from solid to liquid and back to solid. I love the idea that the metal I work with has an unseen history. It was once part of the regalia of ancient royalty, or a simple circle worn for decades around your grandmother’s finger. Because we carry it, use it to mark occasions, and re-form it to suit the needs of its user, metal continually bares witness to individual lives and the history of humanity.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

I am currently exploring contemporary forms of portable wealth. For millennia, jewelry has been an important means of transporting wealth. Material value plays an important role, but it is not the only value jewelry holds. Jewelry can reconnect the wearer to spaces that are no longer accessible. My current project A Portrait of People in Motion looks at the role of objects in movement and migration, both voluntary and forced. The works in Heavy Metal explore my own experience with spatial displacement—both real and imagined.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

My hands are my most essential tools. Making by hand is a way of thinking and learning that is not directly associated with intellect. I rely on proprioceptive interactions between my body and the material, leading me to act intuitively as I work.

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Kerianne Quick, What Time and Distance Cannot Shrink, 2017; Copper, fine silver, and sterling silver, dimensions variable; Courtesy of the artist

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Kerianne Quick, What Time and Distance Cannot Shrink (detail), 2017; Copper, fine silver, and sterling silver, dimensions variable; Courtesy of the artist

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Kerianne Quick, The Utility of Sentimental Emotions, and Perceived Value, 2017; Sterling silver, copper, and steel, 24 x 5 x 1/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

I am obsessed with material and the information it can carry. I am inspired by the stories that objects can relate, authenticate, and enhance. I have made several bodies of work in this material-specific way of working. I explored communal sheep farming practices in the Orkney Isles, sugar farming in Hawaii, native copper mining in Ontonagon County, and derelict brickyards in New York’s Hudson Valley.

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

I loved Dahn Vo: Take My Breath Away at the Guggenheim. He masterfully re-contextualizes objects in the physical space of the museum, allowing their historical significance to become an amalgam of new meaning and a new narrative. As a metalsmith, I think Vo’s We the People is a must see!

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

Artist Spotlight: Charlotte Charbonnel

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Charlotte Charbonnel with Train End (2016) in Heavy Metal; Photo: Sarah Baker

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Charlotte Charbonnel
Nominating committee: Les Amis du NMWA (France) / Consulting curator: Alicia Knock, Centre Pompidou

Works by French artist Charlotte Charbonnel often highlight invisible forces, like sound and magnetic waves. Charbonnel’s work focuses on “different visual qualities, the physical instability, and the acoustic properties of elements.”

Two of Charbonnel’s works in Heavy Metal, Petit colosse n°7 (2016) and Resonarium (2011), contain iron filings suspended in space by magnetism. Resonarium, in particular, demonstrates the strange way in which magnets can help metal defy gravity. The work’s central core rotates slowly on a motor while iron filings shift subtly, pulled by an invisible magnetic attraction. Viewers may find the work to have a magical, hypnotic quality.

Charbonnel is attracted to metal for its transformative qualities. “Metal, through its different states (powder, solid, and liquid) allows a transformation that I try to reveal in my work,” says the artist. “Because metal can transform from one state to another, it seems almost alive, organic.”

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Charlotte Charbonnel, Petit colosse n°7, 2016; Iron filings and resin, 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.; Courtesy of Backslash; Photo by Salim Santa Lucia

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Charlotte Charbonnel, Resonarium, 2011; Aluminum, iron powder, magnets and motor, 59 1/8 x 35 1/2 x 15 3/4 in.; Courtesy of Backslash; Photo by François Deladerrière

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Charlotte Charbonnel, Resonarium (detail), 2011; Aluminum, iron powder, magnets and motor, 59 1/8 x 35 1/2 x 15 3/4 in.; Courtesy of Backslash; Photo by François Deladerrière

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Charlotte Charbonnel, Train End, 2016; Measuring tool and stainless rods, 11 7/8 x 13 3/8 in.; Courtesy of Backslash; Photo courtesy of the artist; © Charlotte Charbonnel

Charbonnel sees iron filings as “independent, mutable pieces until they come into contact with magnets.” She is interested in the way that the “resulting shape can evoke a mineral, an animal, or a fossil.” Charbonnel’s intriguing sculptures and installations blend science and art and highlight the enigmatic beauty of natural forces.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

—Nana Gongadze is the 2018 summer publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Questions with Serena Porrati

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Serena Porrati
Nominating committee: Gli Amici del NMWA (Italy) / Consulting curator: Iolanda Ratti, Museo del Novecento

Serena Porrati with Thin Film (2017); Photo: Sarah Baker

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

During my masters in Art and Science at Central Saint Martins I spent most of my time in the metal workshop, where I quickly got involved in welding. I was attracted by the physicality of the work. Metal requires your mind but also your muscles.

I’m excited by the speed of welding and by the possibility of building heavy structures in only a few hours. I also appreciate metal’s intrinsic properties. I realized that I wasn’t interested in using metal to represent something. I was using it to study and question its own materiality, establishing a discourse with it.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

The works presented here are not fixed or defined, rather they evoke their own history or a discourse. They constantly question their own origin and destiny.

I don’t see the metals as a passive stuff. As theorist Jane Bennett states, this habit of parsing the world into dull matter (it, things) and vibrant life (us, beings) is a “partition of the sensible.” The quarantines of matter and life encourage us to ignore the vitality of matter and the lively powers of material formations.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

I use heat as a brush, as a process of transformation, and a tool to operate. By mimicking geological and industrial processes, engaging with ideas of control and chance, working with metal and heat, I mark a trajectory between the organic and the inorganic, the animate and inanimate, life and non-life, the raw material and the artifact. It’s an attempt to evade binary categories of thought.

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Serena Porrati, Thin Film, 2017; Copper, 15 3/4 x 12 in.; Courtesy of Space4235 Genoa

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Serena Porrati, Damascus Sunset, 2017; Steel, 1 1/4 x 24 7/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist

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Serena Porrati, Collapse, 2014; Cast iron, 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 x 3 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

Science, nature, and the forest outside my house, but also the heavy cargo airplanes that fly over my house inspire me. I enjoy reading and listening to contemporary philosophers, including Donna Haraway, Elisabeth Povinelli, John Zerzan, Hannah Tzing, and Jane Bennett—and also their predecessors, Tommaso Bruno, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Darwin, Adorno, and Deleuze.

5.What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

Carta Canta was a collective show held at Il Foglio, a printing workshop in Milan where etchings from great masters of art history were exhibited alongside works by contemporary artists.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

5 Questions with Beverly Penn

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018

Artist: Beverly Penn
Nominating committee: Texas State Committee / Consulting curator: Virginia Treanor, National Museum of Women in the Arts

Beverly Penn; Photo: Christopher Zaleski

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

Metal adds permanence and intractability to an otherwise susceptible and transitory entity. In essence and in form the bronze replaces each unique plant, like a non-natural double. I cast weeds into bronze to create an enduring replica that pays homage to the original—like a memorial. The notion of a memorial is significant in these times of irreversible climate change and extinction, yet a memorial also links us to desire, so it is also hopeful.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

My larger body of work includes three related explorations. The “Timeline” series documents a single plant through an annual growth cycle, from bud to seed, by fixing specimens in a vertical sequence to slotted glass rods. The “Weed” series explores a group of plants with which humans have had to contend for places over millennia. The “Nativesseries reveals a sense of unity with nature.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

My psyche (soul, brain, eyes, hands) and my torch. One imagines and the other makes.

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Beverly Penn, Eight Months Time: Snowcap Hawthorne, 2017; Bronze, glass, brass, and steel, 40 x 10 x 6 in.; Courtesy of the artist, Lisa Sette Gallery, and William Campbell Contemporary Art; Photo by Christopher Zaleski

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Beverly Penn, Maelstrom, 2011; Bronze, 108 x 108 x 6 in.; Courtesy of the artist, Lisa Sette Gallery, and William Campbell Contemporary Art; Photo by Christopher Zaleski

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Beverly Penn, Fata Morgana, 2014; Bronze, 90 x 8 x 27 in.; Courtesy of the artist, Lisa Sette Gallery, and William Campbell Contemporary Art; Photo by Christopher Zaleski

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

I am inspired and perplexed by the kingdom of plants with which we share this planet—especially the natives, invasives, and other stoic upstarts that persist without our stewardship. I am also inspired by Moorish architecture, Islamic art, and Victorian design. I am influenced by historians E. H. Gombrich, Oleg Grabar, and Christian Norberg-Schultz; the writing of Michael Pollen, Lucy Lippard, Ann Patchett, and Zadie Smith; the gardens and fantasies of Martha Schwartz and Antoni Gaudi; the music of Keith Jarrett, Aretha Franklin, and Nick Drake; as well as many artists.

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

I was moved by Do Ho Suh’s recent solo exhibition, which featured drawings, videos, and sculptural fabric “Specimen” series. Made from glowing transparent polyester, these “specimens” were replicas of domestic appliances and fixtures. The installation was a dreamlike replica of the artist’s New York apartment and studio made from luminous, transparent fabric. Wandering through the ephemeral likeness of this ghostly maze of corridors and rooms was a physical and psychological exchange of one reality for another.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

Alchemy of Fashion: The Wearable Art of “Heavy Metal”

From jackets made of hammered sheet metal, to cuffs of delicate copper and organza, Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018 features a diverse array of wearable art. On one level, these pieces can be appreciated as sculptural works of art. On another, they are functional objects.

Left: Carolina Rieckhof Brommer, Self-portrait 4, 2005; Welded steel, 47 1/4 x 27 1/2 x 19 3/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by Natalia Revilla; Right: Kerianne Quick, The Utility of Sentimental Emotions, and Perceived Value, 2017; Sterling silver, copper, and steel, 24 x 5 x 1/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Artists Kerianne Quick and Carolina Rieckhof Brommer create wearable works that speak to the intimate roles that clothing and accessories can play in people’s lives. For both artists, metal is intrinsic to the meaning of their works. Quick’s The Utility of Sentimental Emotions, and Perceived Value (2017) references the objects that migrants—by choice or necessity—decide to leave behind or take with them. Quick’s work explores the significance and weight that a metal key can have to humans. Brommer’s welded steel coat, Self-portrait 4 (2005), mimics the folding and texture of fabric’s patchwork, but is as hard and immovable as armor. Brommer’s work was influenced by issues surrounding violence against women. The experience of shielding one’s body through clothing is not uncommon for many women.

Left: Cheryl Eve Acosta, Open to Heal, 2009; Cuff with copper and organza, 10 x 11 x 5 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist; © Cheryl Eve Acosta; Photo by Affandi Setiawa; Right: Petronella Eriksson, Water Lily, 2013; Necklace with silver and lemon quartz, 5 1/8 x 15 3/4 x 10 5/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by Christian Habetzeder

Several Heavy Metal artists create wearable art in the form of jewelry. Their works play with contrast and highlight metal’s lustrous qualities. Artists Petronella Eriksson and Cheryl Eve Acosta take inspiration from the natural world. Eriksson’s necklace, Waterlily (2013), contains smooth silver and a large piece of lemon quartz. Delicate, curling tendrils spill onto one shoulder of the person wearing the necklace. A minimalistic take on the flower, the cut gem references the yellow fruit at the center of a real plant. Acosta, influenced by the tropical environment of her native Puerto Rico, finds inspiration beneath the sea. Although Acosta’s cuff Birth (2015) and collar Healing (2009) are made from copper, they refer to the shapes and forms of coral and barnacles.

Metal is both a standard material for delicate jewelry and an unlikely material for clothing. The artists in Heavy Metal embrace the unexpected to create innovative, dynamic works.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018 is on view through September 16, 2018.

—Nana Gongadze is the summer 2018 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Artist Spotlight: Leila Khoury

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Leila Khoury
Nominating committee: Ohio Advisory Group / Consulting curators: Reto Thüring, Cleveland Museum of Art, and Matt Distel, The Carnegie

Leila Khoury with Palmyra (2015) in Heavy Metal; Photo: Sarah Baker

The art of Leila Khoury is both powerful and deeply personal, and responds to the continuing horrors of the Syrian Civil War. The conflict, now in its seventh year, began during Khoury’s time as an undergraduate art student. Her family’s deep roots in the country inspired her to create work focusing the effects of the conflict.

Two works by Khoury on view in Heavy Metal directly reference places damaged by the war. Palmyra (2015) is a large pair of hanging concrete slabs, with the forms of ruins emerging from the rough grey material. Violence caused considerable damage to the ancient city in 2015. To create the work, Khoury spent an hour attempting to build an image of the city without consulting any photos. “It was a really spiritual experience because I was having to face the fact that I might never see this place [again] in my life while I was making it,” she says about the process.

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Leila Khoury, Palmyra, 2015; Steel and concrete, 84 x 84 x 24 in.; Courtesy of the artist

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Leila Khoury, Palmyra (detail), 2015; Steel and concrete, 84 x 84 x 24 in.; Courtesy of the artist

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Leila Khoury, Summer House, 2015; Steel and concrete, 12 x 48 x 1 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Her other work in the show, Summer House (2015), confronts the way the war has affected her family. Khoury felt that the repeated square windows of the piece evoked memories of visiting her grandmother’s beach house in Syria. She filled them with concrete to symbolize the fact that her summers spent visiting that place were over, perhaps forever. The artist salvaged the metal for the piece from a scrap yard herself. Her interest in metal comes from her kinship and experimentation in the metal shop community she joined as an undergrad, where she “became enamored by the nature of metal, and the ease at which welding enabled [her] to work large-scale.”

“It is my hope that my work brings visibility to a common immigrant experience, that which is complex and defined by mixed, often conflicting cultural identities,” the artist explains. “I am still learning how to communicate this in a language that is universal.”

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

—Nana Gongadze is the 2018 summer publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.