Copper, one of the few metals that occurs naturally in a usable form, was the first metal humans fashioned into tools and accessories. For nearly five thousand years—from about 9,000 to 4,000 BCE—it was the only metal worked by humankind. From northern Iraq, where a small pendant dating to about 8700 BCE was found, to the Great Lakes region, where Native American cultures were mining and working copper more than 8,500 years ago, copper’s impact was widespread and significant. Comparatively soft, plentiful, readily mined in its pure form, and easy to shape with hand tools, copper has remained a favored material of metalsmiths to this day. The First Metal: Arts & Crafts Copper is a catalogue for the first exhibition devoted solely to the use of copper in the Arts & Crafts Movement.
Drawing on the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s Margo Grant Walsh Twentieth Century Silver and Metalwork Collection and a select number of private and museum loans, the exhibition presents a range of hand-wrought copper works by many of the premier metalsmiths working in late 19th and early 20th century Britain, the United States, and beyond. The fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue includes essays by Arts & Crafts scholar-curators Mary Greensted of the United Kingdom and Jonathan Clancy of the United States tracing the rise of the Arts & Crafts movement and the role that copper played in its development and ethos.
About the Author
John S. Weber (editor) is the Executive Director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. He has a long record of curated exhibitions and publications about international, national, and west coast contemporary art. He has a B.A. from Reed College and an M.F.A. in Visual Art from UC San Diego. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.
Marilyn Archer (editor and guest curator) is an independent design and curatorial consultant whose professional background includes 30 years as a design Principal with Gensler, an internationally acclaimed architecture and design firm. Her work has been recognized with numerous design awards along with her elevation to Emeritus Fellow conferred by the International Interior Design Association. Prior to co-curating The First Metal, Archer co-curated A New Woman; Clara Barck Welles, Inspiration and Influence in Arts & Crafts Silver, organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. She holds a B.F.A.with honors from the College of Visual Art & Design at the University of North Texas.
Mary Greensted is a freelance curator, lecturer and writer who specializes in the Arts and Crafts movement. Her publications include Ernest Gimson: Arts & Crafts Designer and Architect, 2019, with Annette Carruthers and Barley Roscoe; The Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, 2010, The Arts & Crafts Movement in the Cotswolds, 1996, and more. She is the former Keeper of Museums at the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, where she was responsible for Cheltenham’s award-winning Arts and Crafts movement collection. In 2010, she received an MPhil from the University of Birmingham for her research into exchanges between Britain and Greece as part of the Arts and Crafts movement. She was also Chairman of the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen from 2009-18 and is an active trustee at Court Barn Museum, Chipping Campden.
Jonathan Clancy is the Director of Collections and Preservation at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. An author, educator, and curator Clancy received his PhD in Art History from The City University of New York's Graduate Center in 2008. He also holds a B.A. in History and Art History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. From 2009-17 he served as Director of the American Fine and Decorative Art Program at Sotheby's Institute of Art in New York. Prior to that he taught art and design history at institutions including Parsons, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Rutgers, and The City College of New York. His publications include Arts and Crafts Metalwork: From the Collection of the Two Red Roses Foundation, 2017, and Warman's Rookwood Pottery: Identification and Price Guide, 2008.