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Oral history interview with Bruce Metcalf

Metcalf, Bruce, 1949-  Search this
Cooke, Edward S., 1954-  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Colorado State University -- Faculty  Search this
Kent State University -- Faculty  Search this
Montana State University (Bozeman, Mont.)  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Society of North American Goldsmiths  Search this
State University of New York at New Paltz -- Students  Search this
Syracuse University -- Students  Search this
Tyler School of Art -- Students  Search this
University of the Arts (Philadelphia, Pa.) -- Faculty  Search this
Adamson, Glenn  Search this
Arneson, Robert, 1930-1992  Search this
Bauer, Fred  Search this
Bennett, Jamie, 1948-  Search this
Burns, Mark, 1950-  Search this
Church, Sharon, 1948-  Search this
Clark, Garth, 1947-  Search this
Craig, Gabriel  Search this
Cummins, Susan  Search this
Daley, William, 1925-2022  Search this
Ebendorf, Robert, 1938-  Search this
Eidelberg, Martin P.  Search this
Flynn, Pat, 1954-  Search this
Getty, Nilda  Search this
Gill, John, 1949-  Search this
Griffin, Gary, 1945-  Search this
Halem, Henry  Search this
Hammer, Wayne  Search this
Hash, Arthur, 1976-  Search this
Jerry, Michael John, 1937-  Search this
Kington, L. Brent (Louis Brent), 1934-2013  Search this
Koplos, Janet  Search this
Koss, Gene  Search this
Kumata, Carol  Search this
La Plantz, David  Search this
Lechtzin, Stanley, 1936-  Search this
Long, Randy  Search this
Matzdorf, Kurt  Search this
Mawdsley, Richard, 1945-  Search this
Moran, Lois  Search this
Morris, William, 1834-1896  Search this
Pritchard, Marian  Search this
Rogers, Harriet  Search this
Rogers, Steve  Search this
Ruskin, John, 1819-1900  Search this
Schaechter, Judith, 1961-  Search this
Shaw, Richard, 1941 Sept. 12-  Search this
Slivka, Rose  Search this
Slosberg, Jill  Search this
Wilson, Anne, 1949-  Search this
Woell, J. Fred, 1934-  Search this
96 Pages (Transcript)
5 Items (Sound recording: 5 sound files (4 hr., 10 min.), digital, wav)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound recordings
California -- description and travel
Seoul (Korea) -- Description and Travel
2009 June 10
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Bruce Metcalf conducted 2009 June 10, by Edward S. Cooke, Jr., for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Metcalf's home, in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Mr. Metcalf discusses his early years in Amherst, Massachusetts; beginnings as a maker with modeling clay and plastic airplane models; undergraduate years at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York in the late 1960s; early interest in architecture; early disenchantment with modernist discourse and theory; introduction to Marxist theory and idealism of the 1960s; summer trip to California in 1970; return to the East Coast upon the death of his father; return to college, transferring into jewelry in his senior year; influence of his teacher Michael Jerry; seeing the work in "Objects: USA" exhibition (1969) and influence of the work of J. Fred Woell, Richard Mawdsley, L. Brent Kington; rejection of current trends in art, including conceptual art and formalism; his affinity for the medium of metal, and hammersmithing; influence of funk ceramics, including work by Fred Bauer and Richard Shaw; brief stint at Montana State University, Bozeman; working in cardboard and wood; graduate school at the State University of New York, New Paltz; working with Robert Ebendorf and Kurt Matzdorf at New Paltz; work as a production artist/craftsperson; attending Rhinebeck, New York, craft fair in the mid-1970s; the influence of writings by William Morris and John Ruskin and the notion of "dignified labor"; graduate school at Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; formulating his aesthetic of narrative symbolism; publication of his first article in 1977 as a response to review of the exhibition "Forms in Metal: 275 Years of Metalsmithing in America" (1975); yearlong teaching position at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; taking a teaching position at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio (1986-1991); publication of his article "Crafts: Second-Class Citizens?" in the first issue of Metalsmith, 1980; growing involvement with the Society of North American Goldsmiths; development of his notion of "social utility" and the role and function of crafts and making; expansion of his writing on craft; rejection of the deconstructivist school of thought in the 1980s; abandonment of sculptural objects for jewelry in the early 1990s; return to Philadelphia in 1991; early teaching of history of craft, first at Kent, then on a Fulbright scholarship in Seoul, South Korea (1990), later at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, in the early 1990s; influence of Martin Eidelberg; development of his vision for a history of craft course; collaboration with Janet Koplos on "Makers: A History of American Studio Craft"; use of his medium and craft to explore issues of nurturing and anxiety; the psychological/social effect and aesthetic importance of wearing jewelry (for the wearer and the artist); the pros and cons of craft collectors; the problematics of installation work by craft artists; recent trends in craft, including Anne Wilson's notion of "sloppy craft" and an "anti-craft" attitude; recent artists, including Arthur Hash and Gabriel Craig; lack of exhibition opportunities for younger/emerging artists; influential recent texts, including "Shards," by Garth Clark. He also recalls Robert Arneson, Randy Long, Carol Kumata, Jamie Bennett, Steve and Harriet Rogers, Wayne Hammer, Stanley Lechtzin, Gene Koss, Henry Halem, Mark Burns, Rose Slivka, Nilda Getty, Jill Slosberg, Sharon Church, John Gill, David La Plantz, Lois Moran; Gary Griffin; William Daley, Marian Pritchard, Glenn Adamson, Pat Flynn, Susan Cummins, and Judith Schaechter.
The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Bruce Metcalf on June 10, 2009. The interview took place in Bala Cynwyd, Penn., and was conducted by Edward S. Cooke, Jr. for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This interview is part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Bruce Metcalf has reviewed the transcript. His corrections and emendations appear below in brackets with initials. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
Biographical / Historical:
Bruce Metcalf (1949- ) is a jeweler and writer in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Originally recorded as 5 sound files. Duration is 4 hr., 10 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
This transcript is open for research. Access to the entire recording is restricted. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Ceramics  Search this
Communism  Search this
Deconstructivism (Architecture)  Search this
Conceptual art  Search this
Formalism (Art)  Search this
Jewelers -- Pennsylvania -- Interviews  Search this
Metal-work  Search this
Jewelry making  Search this
Sound recordings
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
Online Media:

Fifties homestyle : popular ornament of the USA / Mark Burns & Louis DiBonis ; photographs by Norinne Betjemann ; foreword by Peter Dormer

Burns, Mark 1950-  Search this
DiBonis, Louis 1951-  Search this
Betjemann, Norinne  Search this
Physical description:
96 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 28 cm
United States
20th century
Interior decoration accessories--History--Themes, motives  Search this
Call number:
NK2115.5.A25 B96 1988b
NK2115.5.A25B96 1988b
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries

Magician's Dinnerware, (sculpture)

Burns, Mark 1950-  Search this
Everson Museum of Art of Syracuse and Onondaga County 401 Harrison Street Syracuse New York 13202 Accession Number: 84.20 a-c
Object--Other--Table Setting  Search this
Recreation--Sport & Play--Cards  Search this
Object--Foodstuff--Meat  Search this
Figure--Fragment--Hand  Search this
Animal--Bird  Search this
Object--Foodstuff--Cracker  Search this
Control number:
IAS 38140114
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

Vice Squad, (sculpture)

Burns, Mark 1950-  Search this
Earthenware, wood, wire and paint
Everson Museum of Art of Syracuse and Onondaga County 401 Harrison Street Syracuse New York 13202 Accession Number: 87.37.1
Recreation--Dress Up--Transvestite  Search this
Religion--Satan  Search this
Control number:
IAS 38140113
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

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