The Florida Society of Goldsmiths has presented Mary Lee Hu with the 2008 FSG National Metalsmith’s Hall of Fame award in the Artist/Arts Educator category.
Hu is known for using traditional textile techniques—weaving, twining, wrapping, and braiding to transform wire into sumptuous body sculpture. Her main tools are her fingers. “The many hours of repetitive twining are a meditative activity,” she said.
Hu professes an early love of metals that developed into more than 42 years of jewelry-making in which she has explored the possibilities and limits of wire. Not only does Hu enjoy looking at jewelry objects from the past, she studies anthropology and jewelry history to learn about their cultural context. Noting the importance of body adornment in ancient and traditional societies, Hu strives in her own pieces to create art forms that are stunningly beautiful, yet fully wearable. A number of jewelry designers have used similar techniques, but the results generally de-emphasize the structure and pay more attention to the surface. Hu explores the structural possibilities—the three-dimensional possibilities as well as the richness of surface—in a scholarly and academic manner.
In addition to her jewelry and technical perfection, Hu had a long career educating students at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she was a professor of art from 1980 to 2006. She also makes an outstanding contribution to the public’s understanding and acceptance of art jewelry through her lectures and demonstrations and is available for workshops since retiring.
The National Metalsmith’s Hall of Fame was established in 1999. It is located at The Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Fla. Awards can be given in four categories: Artist, Arts Educator, Arts Patron, and Business Patron. For more information or nomination forms for the year 2009, contact: Jean Marie DeSpiegler, Executive Director 727.822.7872 x28; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Choker #83, 2000. 18 & 22K gold, 6-1/4 x 6-1/2 x 1-3/4 in., twined, constructed