"Metalsmithing," explains Lynn Duggan, professor of art at Nazareth College, "is an all-encompassing term for people who make metal objects. To 'smith' (an old English word) means to hammer. Metalsmiths hammer metal to create utensils, jewelry, vessels, smaller sculptures, and larger forms."
Examples of regional metalsmithing at its finest are currently displayed at the Nazareth College Arts Center gallery in Torch Song: The Metals Invitational. Duggan—herself a metalsmith specializing in abstract figurative forms—organized and curates the exhibit, which celebrates the forming and re-forming of a range of materials—from steel to silver to found objects.
The exhibit features the work of artists such as Albert Paley, Juan Carlos Caballero-Perez, Suzanne Amendolara, and many more. Rochester, N.Y., and the surrounding region boast nationally and internationally known artists and craftsmen, as well as an extensive array of metalsmithing programs. "Within a three-hour radius of Rochester, by car, there is Nazareth College, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY at Geneseo and Brockport, Buffalo State University, Syracuse University, and Edinboro University in Pennsylvania," listed Duggan in a City Newspaper review of the exhibit.
So why did metalsmithing take root in this area?
Duggan attributes the foothold to immigration patterns throughout the Northeast region of the United States. After World War II, metalsmithing was considered a discipline in the arts. Immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia—the master craftsmen of their countries—came to this region and became some of the leaders, instructors, and professors of the area's fine arts programs.
The region became home to some of these master craftsmen, and now fortunately the College’s Arts Center Gallery is home to an impressive exhibit. "The Arts Center Gallery has allowed us to have this exhibit. The space is great for 3-D works on pedestals, allowing each piece to have its own space," said Duggan.
A visit to the gallery is well worth the trip. The exhibit is free and open to the public through March 11, 2011. An online gallery featuring some of the works from the exhibit is also available for viewing.
For Duggan's next exhibition, she and her brother, Lee Duggan (an illustrator and painter), will showcase their work at the Colacino Gallery. The exhibit of the siblings' work celebrates their relationship as brother and sister as well as fellow artists. "Drawing, Sawing, and Other Sibling Revelries" will run April 8 through May 7 with an opening reception on Friday, April 8, from 6 to 8 p.m.
While Lee Duggan devised the name of their dual exhibition, Lynn brainstormed the title for Torch Song, demonstrating that her own talents encompass not only metalsmithing, but also wordsmithing.