Five metals and jewelry graduate students working together in a collaborative studio class have created a project that uses jewelry as a means of helping the environment.
Thespillsmiths.org is a two-part project designed to raise funds and awareness about the damage caused by oil spills and to highlight the cleanup process in the Gulf.
The main events for the project included a panel discussion, lecture about offshore drilling, and an artist talk given at the opening reception Nov. 4. The group exhibited an installation created in response to the Gulf oil spill at Mr. Beast Gallery through Nov. 9.
“The origin of the project came about in our Collaborative Studio class,” said Ryan Holandes, one of the five students who worked on the project. ”We just kind of sat down and pulled our ideas together on how to create a meaningful project. This was the result of a long process of thinking about what our skills were and what we could best communicate in a very short period of time—we only had six weeks to put this whole thing together.”
Holandes said 1,500 brooches were handmade by the students for this project.
“We used a little bit of technology to cut the jewelry out, but there was a lot of work that went into actually building the pieces by hand. We hosted two workshops where metals and jewelry students, as well as the general public, came in and helped us out with different aspects of producing the brooches. So, we were able to have a lot of input from other members of the SCAD community,” he said.
There are two types of brooches; both types were handmade. One type of brooch is more intricate that the other and serves both as a brooch and as wall art, selling for $75. These brooches are made of copper and feature wildlife that were affected by the oil spill. The second type of brooch is made from acrylic and sells for $10. The SpillSmiths have raised more than $1,600, thus far.
Said Holandes, “We engineered it so that we would be able to contribute 90 percent of all of the profits directly towards the organizations working in the Gulf. We wanted to keep the material and labor costs as minimal as possible.” But even after the gallery portion of the project closes, there will still be opportunities to get involved and help raise money for the cleanup process through an online retail store where customers can buy the brooches. There will also be a documentation of the Savannah project online.
During a question and answer session, the five students who created the project explained the connection between metals and jewelry and the oil spill.
“We are all metals and jewelry graduate students. So, besides being makers, we also think about jewelry a lot. I think that because of that, we know that jewelry functions in a lot of complicated ways. One of those ways that we have seen recently is examples of social jewelry, or jewelry for a cause. We wanted to use our expertise to take that to another level,” said Holandes.
“I think all jewelry functions as a signifier of something, whether it’s a personal story of something else. Jewelry is always functioning; when people you wearing jewelry, it says something about you. I think it’s important to be aware of that capability of jewelry and to capitalize on that by taking it and using it for the benefit of a cause,” said Gabriel Craig, with the artist-in-residence program, teaching the collaborative studio class.
The opportunity to purchase a brooch is not over with the gallery exhibit completed, because the second part of the project begins. A video documenting the first part of the project will be displayed online along with an online store for purchasing brooches.
Jillian Daleiden, from the group of student creators, explained why they chose to focus on and raise funds for oil spill cleanup crews.
“We all wanted to do something that was community involved and environmentally related. Then, we focused on what we could make a statement on, what we could actually cause somewhat of an awareness about, and what was important to us at the time. Some of us have family over there and are from there, so it was easier for us to associate with and be able to understand it,” she said.
The project highlights four oil spills that have happened all around the world, not only the one that happened recently in the Gulf.
“The issue we wanted to address was oil spills and the large amount of them in the world. The Gulf oil spill was huge incident, but it wasn’t the only one. It was a little disheartening to learn about how many happen around the world and how huge they are. We wanted to raise the awareness that once they’re gone from the news, they’re not gone from reality,” said Holandes.
Besides the Gulf of Mexico, the project highlights the coastlines of Alaska, Korea and the Yucatan Peninsula. Along these four coastlines, the largest marine oil spills have occurred.
“The two goals for this were to raise awareness and to raise funds. Our monetary goal still has a long way to go, but in terms of raising awareness, we had a panel discussion where 50 people attended, we had a lecture which close to 100 people attended, and we had an artist talk which only a few people attended; but if you think on a local level, how many people attended our events, and how many people they told, the number of people certainly exceeded my expectations,” said Craig.Contact Augusta Statz.