The new jewelry exhibit at Cape Fear Studios gets high marks for invention, creativity and its well crafted and originality. Creative Metalsmiths: the Works of Erica Stankwytch Bailey and Students is an exhibit that proves how we all have an artist within us. As evident in the exhibit, people from all different types of professions have proven a quality body of work can be created and exhibited. All that is needed is a certain amount of skill and creativity, having the right encouragement, working with a knowledgeable and effective teacher and working very hard to meet deadlines.
Bailey and 10 of her students are also demonstrating how jewelry design has a secure position in the discipline of fine arts. No matter what their profession, each artist has combined aesthetics and experiences with the rigors of learning how to manipulate, fabricate, form, solder and design wearable art in metal.{mosimage} 
    A well-known metalsmith in the area, Bailey exhibits locally and nationally. Her work is known for being sculptural in essence, mixing perforated and solid surfaces. Approaching jewelry as a sculptor; her forms are often large in scale, asymmetric in design and always have a minimalist flare for suggesting something beyond the object itself.
A consummate metalsmith, Bailey earned a degree in metals from East Carolina University. Upon returning to Fayetteville she began teaching courses at Fayetteville Technical Community College. That experience has turned into seven years of teaching, which has resulted in a group of committed students who have studied with her for up to seven years. It is this core group of students that are exhibiting in Creative Metalsmiths: the Works of Erica Stankwytch Bailey and Students.
    A well-known artist, Bailey is also a dedicated teacher. I am aware of her enthusiasm and passion for teaching. She commented, “For me, having the opportunity to share my passion with others is priceless. I feel like I am creating a local niche for myself with a group of people that enjoy discussions about annealing, forging and all things metal. As an artist it is great to have a group of peers who discuss technical and aesthetic concerns. As an educator it is truly fantastic when you see the light go on when they finally get it! I am so proud of the work these students have completed to share with the community.”
    Nancy Tiska mounts stones in her silver fabricated bracelets and necklaces. What is particularly interesting is that the stones in Tiska’s work are actually parts of ceramic tiles. While visiting the island of Ponza, off the mainland of Rome and Naples, she collected the ceramic chards on the beaches. The tiles edges were smooth from the wear of the water. A registered nurse by profession, Tiska remarked, “taking jewelry with Bailey started out as a hobby and is just fun. I have plans to make special pieces for my family and friends.”
    Although Dale Parker has taught art in the public schools, metal work was a new experience for her. Her work in particular is organic in design. Parker has worked with Bailey for two years and stated, “I have become intrigued by the transformation of solid, rigid metal into forms that express fluidity and movement.”
    Pandy Autry has always been fascinated by “pattern and texture in nature, textiles, and in ordinary everyday objects.” A decorative painter, Autry has only worked with Bailey for a little over a year. For the exhibit she has fabricated shades for night lights. Autry’s mini lamp shades are exquisite in the way fabricated mesh has been soldered onto a metal frame to create unique and functional forms.                                                                                         Connie Bennett is a “computer technician by day and a jewelry junkie by night.” Her bracelets are carefully swirled round silver wire to create a rhythmic pattern of repetition and movement. Bennett has worked with Bailey for three years and enjoys using mixed media by combing resins and enamels to add color to her metalsmithing techniques.
One of the more technically elaborate bracelets was made by Terry Milliken, a doll maker. A mixed-media cuff bracelet, sterling silver is combined with copper, the surface of the bracelet passed through a rolling mill to create a lace texture. Sterling silver vines, leaves and flowers were added to create a raised relief on the bracelet surface.
The anthropologist of the group is Jennifer Grocer. Her knowledge of the ancients is evident in her work. Solid surfaces are covered with detailed, intricate arabesque patterns — evoking the jewelry style of several ancient civilizations. Mass in Grocer’s work is balanced with the delicate pattern.
    Wendy Marsh has been studying metalsmithing with Bailey for two years. As a massage therapist, Marsh’s earrings and necklace are graceful organic shapes, a vein of silver flows though the center of the form, ending with a delicate spiral. Like most of the Bailey’s students, Marsh has the joy, at this point, of exploring jewelry for the delight of designing and making works of art for family and friends.
    Fabricating horse hair bracelets has been a creative outlet for pharmacist Kim Howell. Owning a business called Twisted Tails; Howell makes braided horsehair bracelets for customers who send her hair from their horses. After working with Bailey on and off for six years, Howell has found unique ways to mix fabricated metal techniques with her unique horse hair jewelry.
    Lee McMillan always enjoyed “digging through her mother’s jewelry boxes and items of the 1950s.” In retro style, McMillan presents her bracelet on a white glove; beads dangle from her silver forms creating a delicate twinkle of the traditionally feminine. What began as trying to learn a few soldering techniques, has become two years of study with Bailey.
    Due to a canceled watercolor class, Kathy Moore decided to take a jewelry class. Three years later she is still working with Bailey and enjoys experimentation with jewelry making. Moore’s work in particular focuses on ways to integrate color with metal. Like several of the other student’s, Moore is inspired by nature.
    While viewing the exhibit, visitors to the gallery will immediately notice how Bailey’s tutoring does not end at the jeweler’s workbench. There was an extensive amount of preparation and planning on how to present the work. From the way each student’s shadow boxes were lit, to the building of the shadow boxes and the choices each artist made to present their work, Bailey lead the way in creating and promoting an exhibit, meeting deadlines, pricing and many other experiences which would be outside the realm of a regular class syllabus.
    {mosimage}Each student had only compliments and words of praise for their teacher guru. Parker remarked, “I appreciate that she allows input from her students as to what they want to learn. She encouraged me to go for it and didn’t expect us to emulate her style of work; instead we are encouraged to find our own style.”
    Creative Metalsmiths: the Works of Erica Stankwytch Bailey and Students will remain at the Cape Fear Studios through July 23, 2008. The studio is located on Maxwell Street, two blocks behind the Arts Council in historic downtown Fayetteville.



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