Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Teacher Discovers a New Medium and a New Art Form at The Art School at Old Church

Jackie Shatz, a sculptor whose works often incorporate both collage and painting, has been teaching at the Art School at Old Church for several years. The artist, who lives in Rockland County, has taught workshops and courses exploring the “universal language of abstraction” and encouraging students to play with symbols and shapes in drawings, paintings and sculpture.

Intrigued by the wealth of courses offered at Old Church, Shatz enrolled in Susan Kasson Sloan’s workshop in Precious Metal Clay jewelry design. Smitten with the process, she took the workshop again… and again. Shatz was delighted to have found a material that she could work with sculpturally to make jewelry. With her new mentor and independently, Shatz began to create rings and pendants out of silver PMC.

“I always loved jewelry and used to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to study ancient jewelry pieces, which I think of as miniature sculpture,” Shatz explains. Working in PMC, she was able to bring her sculptor skills and aesthetic to her new medium.

Working in silver PMC also allowed Shatz to indulge in her passion for geology and natural stones. On a visit to the Adirondacks, she bought bags of locally mined garnet dust and even panned for tiny natural gems.

Back in her studio, Shatz experimented with a wide variety of techniques. For some pieces, she made molds from a material called Microsil (used to make impressions for hearing aids) and then pressed natural materials such as lichens, seaweed, and pine needles into it. She then pressed the PMC clay into the mold (which it doesn’t adhere to). Finally, she removed the clay and worked with it sculpturally. Shatz even explored the feasibility of encasing delicate seaweed in many dilute coats of silver clay. The final product, while not exactly what she expected, is lovely.

Each piece is unique and gets all the careful deliberation of a large sculpture or painting. Some rings are set with natural garnets and tiny gems like zircons and peridots. Others are carved with ancient symbols, like the ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus. Still others are include casts of old jewelry pieces or materials like a shard of art glass from a broken ring. Shatz also discovered that with PMC she could go back and reapply the clay to fired pieces, enabling her to add new textures and elements.

Shatz is selling her growing collection of art jewelry at Maria Louisa in Nyack, at the Tailored Mermaid in Beacon, NY, at One Well in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, NY. The Nyack Library is also hosting a show of her work in the month of October. 

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