Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
Our last lecture of the symposium was Tom Muir, who spoke in depth about his work. Unfortunately, I missed most of his talk, because I was busy making sure that we were ready to return work from the student exhibition, and also taking down the Art/Science Laboratory exhibition I co-curated. I was able to talk to Tom a little one-on-one, where we discussed electroforming and how to maintain a properly working bath in a communal studio environment. Tom has an incredible amount of technical knowledge, and we were so fortunate that he was able to share so much of it with us at the symposium.
Tom is what I consider to be a metalsmith's metalsmith. Traditional, technical fabrication all the way. I can't even conceive of making some of the things he makes. He spoke a little bit about his first bench job after finishing his undergraduate degree; how he struggled and how much he learned from that experience. I think this type of thing is so important for students to hear from artists they look up to. Students sometimes need to remember that their heroes were once students themselves, and it took them many years of hard work and dedication for them to get where they are now. That brief little story Tom told about his first job is something that really stuck with me from the symposium.
Some of you may recall that Tom juried the Extreme Tea exhibition at the SNAG conference in Houston last year. I made a tea infuser, submitted and was rejected. I was a bit miffed, I think as we all are when we get rejected, but when I saw the exhibition in person, I understood why my piece wasn't in the show. And when Tom spoke about tea infusers in his lecture, I got an even better understanding. My piece wasn't functional in the classical sense of tea infuser, which is an important criteria for Tom. I'm glad the one part of the lecture I was able to catch was how Tom got introduced to tea infusers and how they then began to make their way into his own body of work.
Even though my work and Tom's work are quite opposite, I enjoyed the few interactions I was able to have with him. Tom's the type of person you feel like you can learn from just by standing next to him. His traditional techniques also brought a nice balance to the symposium.
For more information about Tom and his work, you can check out his website here.