The history of contemporary American metalsmithing is inextricably linked with the academy. Since the 1950s, nearly every significant artist working in metals has trained at a university or art school; hence, academic programs have become the most fertile ground for innovation and exploration in metalsmithing and jewelry making. The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s metals program is among the best in the nation.
Its reputation is founded on the teaching legacy of Fred Fenster and Eleanor Moty, who have instilled in their students a profound respect for craftsmanship, technical innovation, formal integrity, and thoughtful design.
Both Moty and Fenster are revered as educators and strong mentors, yet their work and their approaches to metalsmithing are poles apart. Perhaps the strongest endorsement of Fenster and Moty’s teaching, however, is that there is no “Wisconsin look.” Foremost, both have emphasized an unalloyed foundation in technique for their students. The work in this catalogue, produced for a show at the Chazen Museum of Art, encompasses holloware and jewelry, wearable sculpture, poetic and narrative objects, and conceptual installations.