Tom Muir honored for mastery of metals

BOWLING GREEN, O.—“Masterful Metalsmiths,” “The Art of Gold,” “Innovative Tools for Personal Use”—The titles of exhibits in which Tom Muir, Distinguished Professor of the Arts at Bowling Green State University, has been represented reveal a bit about the artist and his work. From jewelry to sculpture to teapots, his style elegantly and playfully blends functionality with aesthetic beauty.

Shown all over the world and written about in numerous publications, Muir’s exquisite creations in silver and gold, and his revival of the art of hollowware, have earned him applause and honors over the years. Now the Ohio Designer Craftsmen have presented him the Outstanding Achievement Award for a lifetime of work. The award was bestowed May 3 at the Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus, during the opening reception of the national competition, “The Best of 2009.”

Since 1976, the achievement award has been given to individuals and organizations to honor their successes in their fields. It also recognizes the work they have done for the craft field, and their effectiveness in helping others to do well in their careers.

Past recipients include Dominick Labino, the Columbus Museum of Art, Erie Sauder and Don Drumm (creator of the BGSU Jerome Library exterior murals). “Tom is one of the very best in the country,” said craft museum Director Betty Talbott. “He has been in the show every year since the very beginning, and he’s won a number of awards.”

Muir is head of the jewelry and metalsmithing area in BGSU’s School of Art. He furthers his educational mission with frequent lectures on art history and workshops on the craft of metalsmithing.

“His artistry dovetails seamlessly with his teaching to create a masterful environment for creativity and learning. Tom’s students have gone on to important graduate programs in jewelry and metals and highly successful careers as artists–and chocolatiers! His restless imagination and quirky sense of humor make working with Tom an endless process of discovery and surprise. He is truly unique,” said School of Art Director Dr. Katerina Rüedi Ray.

Several alumni of his program are participating in the “Best of 2009” show in Columbus. Chelsey Radabaugh, a 2006 BFA graduate of the jewelry and metals program now in her second year of graduate school at Indiana University, received the Emerging Artist Award. Other BGSU graduates represented include Pamela Morris Thomford of Perrysburg and Andrew Kuebeck and Marissa Saneholtz, both of Bowling Green. Kuebeck is in his first year of graduate school at Indiana, while Saneholtz is at East Carolina University.

“He’s so committed to his students,” Talbott said of Muir. “He pushes them to enter and encourages them. His students always do well because they have Tom, and when they graduate they have that on their resumes.”

The “Best Of” exhibit will run through early June in Columbus and then travel the state till December.

Muir is currently one of three American silversmiths chosen to participate in the international design competition of the Silver Art Foundation in the Netherlands. His pieces have been purchased by the Art Institute of Chicago, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian. In 1993, his work was chosen for the White House collection of crafts holiday exhibit, which was seen by one and a half million people.

Muir joined the School of Art faculty in 1991. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University in 1985 and a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Georgia State University in 1982.

To see Muir’s work, visit www.tommuir.org.

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(Posted May 04, 2009 )