Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 18, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat


  • We explore an exhibit featuring the work of metal artists from Arizona State University’s School of Art. It’s a diverse collection of thought-provoking and, at times, humorous works created using a variety of techniques. We’ll visit the gallery, but we’ll also take you into the studios and minds of the artists. Small Metals – Big Ideas is this week’s focus for our ongoing series, Arizona ArtBeat on Horizon.
Category: The Arts

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight we begin our new "Horizon" series, Arizona art beat. Producer David Majure and photographer Scott Olson take us to a place where artists prove their mettle.

David Majure:
They manipulate metal with ferocity and finesse. Celebrating its strengths.

David Majure:
Exposing weaknesses, using fire and water, tools and talent, they gradually persuade it to bend to their will. Those are graduate students in ASU school of art, they're pursuing master of final arts degrees with an emphasis in metal.

Becky McDonah:
My students get a lot of training in different techniques and are allowed to explore a lot of things that aren't always available at every university. So they come out with a really good skill set. Things they know how to do and I think that helps them express what they're -- express what they're trying to express.

Sam Troxell:
The piece is called "into the drink." It's a hand-raised vessel. Started out as a big copper sheet and I raised it up using hammers and wooden stakes.

David Majure:
Sam Troxell says he finished in two weeks but the technique took 10 years to learn.


Sam Troxell:
It's hard material. Difficult. Tough. When I say difficult and tough, the material is tough. I think the ideas and the ways of coming up the artwork is the same. You have your concept, your muse and things that intrigue you about the material and what you can make.

David Majure:
After creating a picture, his idea blossomed more.

Sam Troxell:
It's a bigger idea. This is maybe a whimsical story of a bug. And so it's expanding on your imagination. Making it grander than what it is.

David Majure:
Small metals, big idea, by students, and faculty and alumni. It's at Tempe marketplace in the middle of an outdoor shopping mall.

Leon Nash:
It isn't like normal galleries where people know they're going to look at art. Here they're basically coming -- going shopping or going to eat or whatever.

Becky McDonah:
That's what it special. The traffic you get through isn't necessarily the normal people going out to seek an exhibition.

Leon Nash:
I'm Leon Nash. The name of the piece is "X." I was thinking about armor and shields and along those lines when I was making this piece.



David Majure:
It's a combination of styles and techniques. Including a chain mail-like mesh that Leon's been experimenting with for a while.

Leon Nash:
I think my favorite part is designing what part is going to happen when. With stuff like this, trying to figure out sizes and where it's going to go and how it's going to be connected, I think -- I think that's the most fun for me.

David Majure:
It can take precise calculations to do the job right.

Leon Nash:
That's the funny thing. I'm not great at math but it makes you feel a little better. But yeah, that's where I spend most of my time is drawing it up and designing before I start something like this.

Michelle Startzman:
I think out of everything I made, the bowl is wearable.

David Majure:
Michelle Startzman is uses enamel in her pieces.

Michelle Startzman:
It's one way to add color into the metalwork. That's a type of glass used on of metal.

David Majure:
Ocean themes and parts of cameras are included.

Michelle Startzman:

I inherited a lot of cameras from my grandfather when he passed away and wanted to do something with some of them because that's important to me.

Becky McDonah:
When you look at metal, you have the flat surface, well, but to give it a personality is what is really exciting about it. I love working with the metal but also love working with the ideas too. This piece is entitled "hearing protection protecter" and it would traditionally house the bones or other attributes.

Ted Simons:
Protected inside this one is two ordinary earplugs.

Becky McDonah:
It's humorous. And as far as the approach to creating it, the ear is a technique, using smaller tools that's formed in something called pitch. You can see what the pitch is doing. As far as how it's supporting itself, or the metal up in this, it collapses where my tools are taking it.

David Majure:
Her shrine to hearing protection, is adorned with hearing aid batteries she collected.

Becky McDonah:
And surrounding areas as well. But stories along with the piece are important to me, along with making it, I'm interested in like what was -- what was the reason for hearing loss. Things like that. And I got a lot of different things, not just, oh, old age and it went away. But stories about like loud guns during the war. Working for a machine shop. One was a car accident.

David Majure:
She feels like those personal stories add another level of meaning to her often unusual art.
Becky McDonah:
I do want to have a conversation piece out there and whatever -- you know, I can't assume what those conversations would be, but as long as there's some sort of conversation, I think that -- that's something that I enjoy about it.

David Majure:
But forging ideas and telling stories in metal takes time. It's an art form that requires skill and a heavy dose of patience.

Becky McDonah:
If you've got it, you'll eventually reach what you desire for your outcome for your piece.

Ted Simons:
The exhibition, small metals, big ideas, runs until November 28th at the night gallery in Tempe marketplace. The gallery is a partnership between the Vestar Development company and ASU. It's open from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

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