Oral history interview with Bruce Metcalf

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.metcal09
Creators:
Metcalf, Bruce, 1949-
Cooke, Edward S., 1954-
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Dates:
2009 June 10
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
96 Pages
Transcript
5 Items
Sound recording: 5 sound files (4 hr., 10 min.)
digital, wav
Repository:

Scope and Contents
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.
Scope and Contents
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
Biographical / Historical
Bruce Metcalf (1949- ) is a jeweler and writer in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
Author
Sponsor
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
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.

General
General
Originally recorded as 5 sound files. Duration is 4 hr., 10 min.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This transcript is open for research. Access to the entire recording is restricted. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ceramics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Communism Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Deconstructivism (Architecture) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Conceptual art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Formalism (Art) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jewelers -- Pennsylvania -- Interviews Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jewelry making -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Metal-work Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
California -- description and travel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seoul (Korea) -- Description and Travel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Adamson, Glenn Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arneson, Robert, 1930-1992 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bauer, Fred Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bennett, Jamie, 1948- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Burns, Mark, 1950- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Church, Sharon, 1948- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clark, Garth, 1947- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Craig, Gabriel Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cummins, Susan Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Daley, William, 1925- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ebendorf, Robert, 1938- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Eidelberg, Martin P. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Flynn, Pat, 1954- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Getty, Nilda Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gill, John, 1949- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Griffin, Gary, 1945- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Halem, Henry Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hammer, Wayne Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hash, Arthur, 1976- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jerry, Michael John, 1937- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Long, Randy Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kington, L. Brent (Louis Brent), 1934-2013 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Koplos, Janet Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Koss, Gene Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kumata, Carol Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
La Plantz, David Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lechtzin, Stanley, 1936- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Matzdorf, Kurt Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mawdsley, Richard, 1945- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Moran, Lois Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Morris, William H., 1834-1896 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pritchard, Marian Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rogers, Harriet Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rogers, Steve Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ruskin, John, 1819-1900 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Schaechter, Judith, 1961- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shaw, Richard, 1941 Sept. 12- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Slivka, Rose Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Slosberg, Jill Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wilson, Anne, 1949- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Woell, J. Fred, 1934- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Colorado State University -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kent State University -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Montana State University (Bozeman, Mont.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Society of North American Goldsmiths Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
State University of New York at New Paltz -- Students Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Syracuse University -- Students Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tyler School of Art -- Students Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
University of the Arts (Philadelphia, Pa.) -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
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