Gary S. Griffin: Nature in Form

Gary S. Griffin: Nature in Form

On Wednesday, May 15th, the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) will kick off its 2013 Annual Conference in Toronto, Ontario. One of the highlights of the program will be a ceremony honoring the organization's 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Gary S. Griffin. With 40 years as a maker, 20 years as an educator, a College of Fellows honor (2005) and the National Ornamental Metal Museum's Master Metalsmith Award (2008) under his belt, Griffin has proved to be an exceptional leader in the field of metals. Starting out in the 1970s creating gold modernist jewelry, Griffin's repertoire has expanded over the past 30 years to include large-scale steel sculptures and abstract multi-media constructions, as well as more functional iron gates and metal furniture. 

Back in 1991, several of Griffin's utilitarian pieces were featured in "Explorations II: The New Furniture" at the American Craft Museum in New York. Meant to highlight recent works, forms and materials outside wood, the exhibition fostered new perceptions of contemporary furniture and the relationship of this "traditional craft" to industrial design. For the show, Griffin created a set of benches, coffee table and lamp with metal wheat grasses forged into the base.

According to the "Explorations II" catalog, "The [Griffin's] benches are about sowing and harvesting, the polarities of toil and reward" and the description goes on to read "a notable aspect of Griffin's work is his ability to make iron look like something else." The furniture, while composed of steel and bronze, still retains that sense of lightness and balance found in the natural world. Today, Griffin continues to make and exhibit the functional metalwork he constructs out of his northern New Mexico studio.

Congratulations to Gary on his 2013 SNAG Lifetime Achievement Award!

If you can't make it to the Toronto conference, but want to know more about the artist and his work, check out the recent feature on Griffin in American Craft magazine, as well as the oral history interview conducted in 2004 by Glenn Adamson for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

Throwback Thursday is a weekly series highlighting visuals from the American Craft Council Library's Digital Collections Database. Check back on Thursdays for more.