We are proud to present to you the 2016 Emerging Artist
Rebecca Lynn Hewitt
The annual Ethical Metalsmiths Emerging Artist Award is chosen from the applicants to the So Fresh + So Clean student exhibition.
This year’s jurors were the 2016 members of the EM Students, Virginia Commonwealth University Chapter Kelley Morrison and Lucy Louise Derickson, with guest juror Stephanie Voegele.
Rebecca Lynn Hewitt is a metalsmith and an emerging artist who recently graduated from The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Rebecca’s current work investigates environmental issues through wearable and handheld objects, as well as community engagement. She works with sustainable materials such as pressed and dried flora, wood, and silver.
She was recently awarded the Harold A. Milbrath Award and the Mary E. Van Deven Scholarship. Her work was also recently exhibited at The 43rd Annual Juried Exhibition at the Union Art Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During her time at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Rebecca organized and participated in Object Contemporary Craft Jewelry Sales, attended Seared ’15 and the Yuma symposium, and was Program Manager for the Studio Arts and Craft Centre. In 2017, Rebecca will be one of the resident artists at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
Plant, Protect and Preserve is a series of work that developed from research on the “special concern” category of the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Working list, which contains all of the plant species that are known or suspected to be rare in the Wisconsin. The “special concern” category is for species that may be in need of concentrated conservation actions, or that face some problem of abundance/distribution. This series is composed of three necklaces that approach the issue in a wearable and welcoming way that encourage reflection and education. The necklace series is paired with active community engagement through both public art workshops and giveaway plantable necklaces. In the community workshops, participants create recycled newspaper planters, biodegradable collection pouches, and flower presses.
I am aware and thoughtful of each of the materials I choose to work with. The pressed flora included in Preserve and Protect are from a Baptisia Tinctoria plant that I planted and pressed myself. By designing and milling the wooden components and purchasing locally sourced wood that is the correct the height of each piece, I’m able to cut back on waste. I also save all wooden scraps to use for my production line, Flora and Grain. The To Plant necklaces are made from recycled envelopes and cotton thread. Overall, I’m actively seeking to have a more ethical metalsmith and find that through simple awareness, I’m able to reuse materials, avoid harmful processes, and repurpose found materials.
We followed up with Rebecca 6 months later.
What events led to you becoming a metalsmith?
I’ve always loved working with my hands and making objects. In my sophomore year at Peck School of the Arts, I took my first metalsmithing class and fell in love with the challenges metalsmithing gave me to solve. I love that I’m able to study metalsmithing everyday and will never run out of things to learn!
What is the tool you love the most? If you could have one tool, that you don’t have already, what would it be?
I appreciate all of my tools, but my favorites are my saw frame and calipers.
Right now I work out of a small home studio and a community studio space. I love the balance of having a personal space and tools, partnered with a communal studio space where I can access tools that I don’t need on a regular basis/are expensive. Although I’d love to personally own some larger equipment, it’s not really necessary right now…I’d love to have a really solid wooden stump or beam.
Who are some of the artists you admire and why?
I really admire Natalie Jeremijenko’s work because of the way she seamlessly connects community, science and art. I also admire Iris Eichenberg’s work and appreciate her understanding and use of materials.
After receiving the EM award, how have you considered ethical practice?
Receiving the award was such a great honor. It really challenged me to consider ways in which my practice can improve. It’s made me more aware of conversations surrounding trying to achieve a more ethical practice and how overwhelming it can feel. I’ve been working with the Ethical Metalsmith’s Student Committee to start an Instagram to encourage conversation around these topics.
What is the significance of wearables in your work?
Wearable work is important in my practice because it allows challenging and overwhelming topics to be more accessible and conversational through the body.
How do you select your materials?
I research what exists, how it’s made, and how to safely use it. Selecting materials just takes time. It’s definitely something that can ALWAYS be improved on.
What do you listen to while you work?
It really depends on what part of a project I’m on. Sometimes I really enjoy the sounds of the studio. Sometimes I listen to podcasts – my favorites are Call Your Girlfriend and An Organic Conversation.
What are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.
What’s next for Rebecca Lynn Hewitt?
I’m starting a residency at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in March! I’m really excited to be making around and hopefully with my community. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with other artists this year!