An interview of Gary L. Noffke conducted 2010 December 4 and 5, by Mary Douglas, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Noffke's home, in Farmington, Georgia.
Noffke speaks of growing up in Sullivan, Illinois; disliking school; the absence of formal art education before college and doing art on his own; his grandfather's farm; attending Eastern Illinois University to study painting, receiving a BS and MS in education with a major in art; what classes he took and his professors; his opinion about art programs in universities; the influence of the Vietnam draft; attending the University of Iowa and his introduction to metals; transferring to Southern Illinois University and his peers; learning techniques with metals; early metal work; working at Stetson University in Deland, Florida; working with colleagues and students and its influence on work; experimenting with different techniques; transition from graduate school to professional life; developing different methods for metal work, and motivations; how the notion of form and function has changed in design, especially regarding metal work and artists; the dynamics of working with students throughout the years; discusses in detail individual works and his approaches and anecdotes; his attraction to rings, simple hardware, and traditional, ancient forms; other teaching jobs before landing at the University of Georgia; building his house and studio; working in the Italy program at Cortona; his experiences at Cranbrook, Michigan and Summervale, Colorado; current and past exhibitions including the National Ring Shows; entering competitions; how the hand-made motif is important in his work; the connotation of labels of craft artist; his casual approach to the art market and formalities in the art world. Noffke also recalls Garret DeRuiter, Brent Kington, Elliot Pujol, May Lee Hu, Marci Zelmanoff, Dickie Nettles, Robert Ebendorf, Gary Erbe, Phil Fike, Bill Brown, Evon Streetman, Lane Coulter, Sue Wilde, Lydia Norell, Fred Messersmith, Tom Gingras, Charles Loloma, Fritz Dreisbach, Barry Merrit, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Gary L. Noffke (1943- ) is a goldsmith in Farmington, Georgia. Mary Douglas (1956- ) is a curator and artist in Statesville, North Carolina.
Originally recorded on 4 SD memory cards. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 49 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.