Legends Series Launched
Distinguished Artist Professor Thomas Muir to speak
by Rachel Gast and Liz Cope
The Bowling Green State University School of Art invites students and the community to the first lecture in the new "Legends" series, celebrating notable faculty across the arts, at 6 p.m. March 28 in 204 Fine Arts Center.
The lecture features Distinguished Artist Professor Thomas Muir, chair of the 3-Dimensional Studies division and head of the jewelry and metals area.
Muir has been working with metal since 1979 when he stumbled upon a jewelry class at Georgia State University. "I just happened to be walking down the hall of the art building one day and saw jewelry and metal work in a display case and discovered it that way. I didn't even know you could take classes like that," he said. Now, his award-winning work is exhibited in the Chicago Art Institute and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, and has been featured in exhibitions across the globe.
Muir draws inspiration from myriad origins. “I have a lot of inspirations. I probably have thousands.”
He utilizes the study of the discipline, as well as natural history, past experiences, or inspiration gleaned from talking with or listening to other artists. “I’ll get inspiration from music or theater, literature — all the related art forms there are.”
Born in Georgia, Muir inherited his work ethic from his father and responsibility from his mother. In fact, his mother came from a long line of blacksmiths. “Her dad was a blacksmith and all her brothers worked in his shop. I think her grandfather was a jeweler in England. Even on my dad’s side there were glass blowers and boat builders, and his grandfather was a blacksmith also.”
At BGSU, he teaches metalsmithing to undergraduate and graduate students in the metals studio of the Fine Arts Center.
“I think the beginning classes are a lot of fun to teach, because students are just starting out. That’s where they make their initial growth and development.”
On day one, Muir goes over safety rules, presents an overview of the class and discipline, and gives a guided tour of the studio. He notes that jewelry and metalsmithing do not require a lot of physical strength. “A lot of jewelers and blacksmiths aren’t really muscular, they just understand how to swing a hammer properly.”
In the entry-level class, students work with three jewelry techniques: cold connections, riveting and surface finishing for the first project, casting from carved waxes, and finally fabrication with sheet metal and wire.
“It gives students a basic foundation of understanding, and then as they progress they can follow their own interests. It may not be metal work at all. Jewelry doesn’t have to be metal. A lot of our students are making jewelry out of ceramic, glass and fiber.”
While the jewelry and metals area is small in comparison to other departments in the school, it is healthy and respected, “It’s not the size that’s important,” Muir said, “but the quality. People are impressed by the work coming out of the program.”
Learn more about the life and career of this BGSU legend.
March 28 | 6 p.m.
204 Fine Arts Center
Following the lecture, guests are invited to tour the newly refurbished Jewelry and Metals studio.