So Fresh + So Clean 2 August 2023 - ongoing

So Fresh + So Clean is an online international competition and juried exhibition curated by Ethical Metalsmiths, Cincinnati, USA. Artisan jeweller Toni-Maree Savage's work Weight of the World, 2023 is included in the exhibition.

A Message from the Ethical Metalsmith Student Committee

We are thrilled to present the 9th Annual So Fresh + So Clean Exhibition with you! In the EM Student Community we celebrate student work while challenging and educating student members to consider the future of the jewelry and metalsmithing field. Each year, the SF+SC Jury examines what it means to be an artist in the 21st century by curating the most innovative work happening now. This edition of SF+SC has been particularly exciting to organize and facilitate as it has been two years since the last exhibition. We have been eager to see what is going on in the field at this moment in history!

This year, artists were challenged to consider the life cycle of their work. They were asked to consider how long they want their work to last. Is it ephemeral? Will it break down eventually? Was it made from uniquely sourced materials? Can it re enter the supply chain? Addressing the future of our work and its “life cycle” is as much a part of the design process as the wearability of the jewelry object itself or the origin story of the materials we chose to make it with.

We were delighted to view this years submissions and distinctive outlooks from around the world. Artists shared complex narratives behind their inspirations and sources. Material choices were definitely examined in each response, from the use of overlooked materials like industrial steel and fiber, to the use of precious materials like 14k gold or sterling silver that may re enter the supply chain in the future.

We extend our deep gratitude to this year’s jurors, Jina Seo and Emily Stoehrer. They offered their expertise throughout the jurisdiction process. Emily Stoehrer presented the EM Student community insightful lecture to inspire and educate students as they used this call for entry opportunity for creative empowerment.

As artists, waste is often a part of our practice, whether we like it or not. We believe that a perfectly responsible studio is always the goal, but remember that it takes time. We encourage you to take small steps and continue the conversation around responsible practices. It is our hope that this year’s challenge will continue to be considered in your ever-evolving commitment with sustainable metalsmithing practices.

To this year’s artists - BRAVO! Your responses to the SF+SC 2023 challenge are thoughtful and innovative. The future of the jewelry and metalsmithing field is bright!

Yifei Kong, Shannon Kurzyniec, Chelsea Rowe
EM Student Committee, VCU Chapter

Artist statement

History preserves the memories of the past, such as how we lived and engaged with each other and nature. When future generations look back on the present, they will see a society dominated by corporate greed, environmental destruction, pervasive narcissism, poverty, homelessness, poor mental health, and a plethora of other environmental, ethical, and social issues. Gladly, many social movements are working to make a change, but in order to keep moving forwards, we must remember to look back. With this in mind, Weight of the World, 2023, is not only a record of current issues but also a provocative call to future generations to avoid repeating previous errors. My work’s narrative is expanded through the use of dramatic photography. My model appears disheveled and uninterested to underline the statement's gloomy undertones. The disappearance of their bleached lips is meant to symbolise the significance that inaction and silence play in maintaining the world's existing issues.

Responsibility statement

Weight of the World, 2023, makes use of long-lasting repurposed materials to make a statement about contemporary issues without adding to them, and to last for future generations to reflect on. I'd like to think that when the work's message becomes irrelevant, it will be disassembled and its parts repurposed. The whole thing is put together by hand. Bolts repurposed from electronic waste, aluminium from a decommissioned outdoor heater, and steel from a local hot water installation company all found their way into the final work. The brass panels on the headband were etched in an environmentally friendly manner using a combination of salt, water, and low-voltage power from a recycled mobile phone charger. The piece was coated with water-based, low-Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paint to reduce environmental impact. This project, like all my other work, is based on environmentally friendly and socially conscious principles that are central to my studio practice and personal ethos.

 Online exhibition available on the Ethical Metalsmiths website.