STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
It’s a first birthday party. In honor of JAM Gallery’s one year anniversary, the inaugural Juried Art Exhibition will be held in this month. More than 80 artists from across the country submitted more than 280 works of art. A jury of professional artists selected 33 artists and 51 works to be showcased.
Wendy Edsall-Kerwin, of Elizabethtown, is excited to be included. She has two pieces featured. One is a non-functional teapot, which she made by building parts, cutting them apart, reconfiguring them, and then putting them back together.
The other piece is a bowl. She makes all kinds of pieces all year long, but makes a bowl every year on Super Bowl Sunday. She’s not really into football, so she focuses on her bowls that day instead.
“I challenged myself to make one in a day,” she said, and she’s succeeded for six years. “Sometimes, it’s easier to design with constraints on yourself.”
She’s making more complex bowls now, so she’ll make the parts prior to the day of the big game and assemble it that day. That’s more difficult than it sounds since she is a metalworker using heat and hammers and other implements to create her art.
“Different works can take 20 to 40 hours depending on how many pieces I have, what I have to do to the pieces,” she said. “The fact that I deconstruct then reconstruct takes time.”
And some works have had 32 rivets that she needed to hammer, which is time-consuming and physically demanding. Much of her works show the seams where the pieces come together.
“A lot of metalsmiths tend to try to hide the way things are made and I wanted to do the opposite and put emphasis on the way things come together,” she said.
The process is something she enjoys and wants people to understand and see it, too.
“It’s an integral part of creating,” she said. “It’s a way to share that with people. It’s something I do by myself and it’s hard to show people the work that goes into a piece.”
She loves to rivet things together, too, and make the rivets visible, she said.
“Without the rivets, the pieces wouldn’t be together,” she said.
Edsall-Kerwin, who earned a degree in jewelry and metalworking at Tyler School of Art, found her love of this art form in a class there.
“As soon as I started doing the technique, it spoke to me,” she said.
She had been a painter and drawer. She even dabbled in photography, which she also loved because of its process. But metalworking is her passion.
“It’s sort of like solving a puzzle sometimes,” she said. “I’ll have an idea for a finished piece and have to figure out how to make it.”
She’s also inspired by shapes in the world around her. She’ll try to figure out how to translate shapes she sees in wood, in nature, into metal. It’s the one thing that really makes her happy.
“Everybody has their one mind-numbing thing they can do,” she said. “I can do the hammering. Some people like to saw things. Some like to sand. You have to find your thing.”
She thinks the show at JAM Gallery, which features a unique range of representational and abstract styles by established and emerging artists, might help creative types and viewers alike find inspiration for whatever it is that they do.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the show,” she said. “It’ll be fun to see how everyone’s pieces work together.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Inaugural Juried Art Exhibition
WHERE: JAM Gallery, 321 E. King St., Malvern.
WHEN: Aug. 6-31, An opening reception is planned for 3-8 p.m. Aug. 9
INFO.: Call (484) 328-3509 or check www.jamgallerymalvern.com.
Learn more about Wendy Edsall-Kerwin at www.hammerstrokeandfire.com/