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Oral history interview with Merry Renk, 2001 January 18-19

Interviewee:
Renk, Merry, 1921-2012  Search this
Renk, Merry, 1921-2012  Search this
Interviewer:
Fisch, Arline M., 1931-  Search this
Subject:
Albers, Josef  Search this
Asawa, Ruth  Search this
Bates, Kenneth F. (Kenneth Francis)  Search this
Brancusi, Constantin  Search this
Brynner, Irena  Search this
Cunningham, Imogen  Search this
Curtis, Earle  Search this
De Patta, Margaret  Search this
Godfrey, Mary Jo Slick  Search this
Guermonprez, Trude  Search this
Hall, Doris.  Search this
Nordness, Lee  Search this
Oliver, Olive  Search this
Tawney, Lenore  Search this
Tajiri, Shinkichi  Search this
750 Studio  Search this
American Craft Council  Search this
Metal Arts Guild  Search this
Mobilia Gallery  Search this
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.)  Search this
School of Industrial Design (Trenton, N.J.)  Search this
University of California, Berkeley. Department of Art  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Topic:
Enamel and enameling  Search this
Enamelers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Jewelry making  Search this
Jewelers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Painters -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- United States -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Decorative arts  Search this
Theme:
Craft  Search this
Women  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)11961
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)227005
AAA_collcode_renk01
Theme:
Craft
Women
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_227005
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Merry Renk

Interviewee:
Renk, Merry, 1921-2012  Search this
Interviewer:
Fisch, Arline M.  Search this
Creator:
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Names:
750 Studio  Search this
American Craft Council  Search this
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.) -- Students  Search this
Metal Arts Guild  Search this
Mobilia Gallery  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
School of Industrial Design (Trenton, N.J.) -- Students  Search this
University of California, Berkeley. Department of Art -- Faculty  Search this
Albers, Josef  Search this
Asawa, Ruth  Search this
Bates, Kenneth F. (Kenneth Francis), 1904-1994  Search this
Brancusi, Constantin, 1876-1957  Search this
Brynner, Irena  Search this
Cunningham, Imogen, 1883-1976  Search this
Curtis, Earle  Search this
De Patta, Margaret, 1903-1964  Search this
Godfrey, Mary Jo Slick  Search this
Guermonprez, Trude, 1910-1976  Search this
Hall, Doris.  Search this
Nordness, Lee  Search this
Oliver, Olive  Search this
Tajiri, Shinkichi, 1923-2009  Search this
Tawney, Lenore  Search this
Extent:
49 Pages (Transcript)
1 Item (sound file (4 min. 15 sec.) Audio excerpt, digital)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Interviews
Sound recordings
Date:
2001 January 18-19
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Merry Renk conducted 2001 January 18-19, by Arline M. Fisch, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Renk's home and studio, San Francisco, California.
Renk speaks of her family background; growing up during the Depression; her father's creativity and encouragement; early inspiration from "the structure of nature"; attending the School of Industrial Arts in Trenton, N.J., and later the Institute of Design in Chicago; student life at the Institute of Design; establishing a studio and gallery, 750 Studio, at 750 North Dearborn, in Chicago, in 1947, with two other students, Mary Jo Slick [Godfrey] and Olive [Bunny] Oliver; managing 750 Studio and organizing exhibitions of Harry Callahan, Henry Miller, Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, Warren and Ethel MacKenzie, Doris Hall, and others; working with enamels; early "primitive" spirals; decision to be a jeweler; the importance of the "wearability" of jewelry; moving to San Francisco in 1948; living in Paris, 1950-1951; relationship with Shinkichi Tajiri; visiting Constantin Brancusi; traveling with Lenore Tawney through Spain and Morocco; settling in San Francisco; friendship with sculptor and neighbor Ruth Asawa; learning about Josef Albers from Asawa, resulting in experiments with folded metal; meeting her second husband, potter Earle Curtis on Halloween 1954; purchasing and remodeling their home; teaching part-time at the University of California, Berkeley and in workshops; her children, Baunnie and Sandra; managing motherhood and jewelry making in a two-artist household; drawing as a form of inventory; the influence of Lee Nordness; learning the plique-à-jour technique of enameling through trial and error; early influence of Doris Hall's work; working with wire; use of natural forms and interlocking forms; the process of making Wedding Crown (1968) for the exhibition Objects USA; making wedding crowns for her daughters; her shift from non-objective art to portraiture and symbolic imagery in the early 1970s; making large-scale sculpture in 1974, then "drifting back" to jewelry; importance of working independently; her "memory paintings" in the 1980s; evolution of her name from Mary Ruth Gibbs to Merry Renk Curtis (married Stanley Renk in 1941); her involvement with local guilds such as the Metal Arts Guild of San Francisco and national organizations such as the American Craft Council (ACC); lack of critical writing about her work; the value of exhibitions; various pieces in museum collections; early ACC conferences; her long friendship with photographer Imogen Cunningham; posing for Cunningham; becoming an ACC fellow; her jewelry tools; the process of painting compared to jewelry making. She also mentions Kenneth Bates, Trude Guermonprez, Irena Brynner, the Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her mentor Margaret de Patta.
Biographical / Historical:
Merry Renk (1921-2012) was a jeweler, painter, and sculptor from San Francisco, California. Arline M. Fisch (1931-) is a metalsmith from San Diego, California.
General:
Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 9 min.
Provenance:
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.
Topic:
Enamel and enameling  Search this
Enamelers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Jewelry making  Search this
Jewelers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Painters -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- United States -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Decorative arts  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Identifier:
AAA.renk01
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-renk01

Dodge, Curtis & Earl

Series Creator:
Warshaw, Isadore, 1900-1969  Search this
Container:
Box 8, Folder 33
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
LaFayette, Indiana
Series Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs are stored off-site and are restricted due to fragile condition. Researchers should consult microfilm in NMAH library for 1880-1983 editions, drawer 692. Some additional items may be restricted due to fragile condition. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Series Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Series Citation:
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Dry Goods, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Dry Goods
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Dry Goods / Business Records and Marketing Material / Companies and Proprietors / Cu-Dy
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0060-s01-01-dry-ref1626

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