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Artist of the Month - April 2003

Wendy Newman’s GOLD GRAPHIX
by Sydney Francis

Wendy NewmanWendy Newman has been a rock hound since she was a young girl. She has always had a passion for geology and a motivation to do art and design. She began her BFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in furniture design and then discovered her medium after taking an “elective” in jewelry design. In addition to receiving her BFA in jewelry design, she has honed her skills as master goldsmith and learned to cut stones and do her own lapidary work for her one-of-a-kind art pieces.

Newman does mostly fabrication, as opposed to casting, using gold and silver wire and sheets of precious metals, which she solders, pierces, and texturizes, using a variety of conventional and unconventional means. Fabrication gives her artwork several advantages, such as the following: the pieces are one of a kind; and they are lighter and, therefore, more wearable.

Newman is prolific and multi-talented. She balances the imagination and skills of an artist with the sensible mind of a businesswoman. She established her own business, Gold Graphix, in 1988, where she designs and creates her own work. She also markets and represents herself by traveling to fine art shows where she sells her work. Newman is also represented by galleries around the country and just added a gallery in Sedona and one in Prescott to her list. She has won numerous awards (too many to count) for her art in competitions and shows exhibited all over the East-coast. Her most recent award is a 1st runner-up (Second Place out of two) in an international competition hosted by the Lapidary Journal.

At first glance, one might consider Newman a jeweler or a goldsmith. However, her designs are more appropriately recognized in the field of fine art. She is indeed a goldsmith and a fine crafts-person, but she is foremost a fine artist of “wearable art”.

Newman describes herself as in a “transition stage” in her artwork. She has been enjoying a series of designs that play off of computer circuit board technology, a design concept inspired by an object which is unique to the turn of the second millennium. For example, one of her favorite pieces is a silver bracelet with a circuit board design using an ammolite as a focal point stone. Ammolite is an iridescent stone, which has deep reds, oranges and greens. In most of her pieces, like this one, she will use faceted accent stones to bring out the colors in her focal point stone. In this case, she uses a square red spinel, a round Mexican fire opal, and a round green tourmaline. The piece is geometric with circuit shapes pierced into the design. She also uses yellow gold and silver for a subtle visual contrast, and then uses texture for further emphasis.

In contrast is a pendant, which shows a spiral section of a trilobite fossil nestled in a shell-like shape of textured silver. The outer shape and setting of silver emphasizes the archetype of the spiral pattern of the fossil, as the texture of the silver contrasts the smooth, metallic quality of the fossil. Then she has made pierced quadrilaterals in the lower corner of the pendant to echo the rhythm created by the fossil’s repetitive ridges. The trillion-shaped accent stone both stabilizes and sets off the overall design of the piece. One’s eye follows the movement of the spiral shape, round and round to the accent stone where the attention is directed back to the fossil and the visual movement begins again.

The fossil pendant is an example of the current work Newman is transitioning toward, which explores the local landscape and the geological features found in Utah, like trilobite fossils. For an avid rock hound, like Newman, this area provides a lot of inspiration, both in materials to use and designs to derive from the uniqueness of the local geology.

Another example of the current series Newman is working on is of the local landscape fabricated in silver and yellow gold. She uses a long sky-blue oval shaped stone that is remnant of the vast skies here in canyon country. The rest of the skyline is textured silver, which is set off by the glossy gold line of the horizon, cut into the familiar shapes of the local landscape (like Delicate Arch on the left side of the composition). A textured river is winding through the middle of piece, adding further to the composition and balance of the whole.

Newman is at an interesting artistic juncture between the modern design qualities of her circuit board work and the emerging shapes and textures inspired by her immediate environment here in Moab. She seems to have an awareness of what is timely and fashionable, while concurrently designing and creating work which expresses her vision and artistic spirit. It is a wonderful living paradox to discover an artist whose creative product is both transcendental and a result of the environment and its historical moment.

For more information about Wendy Newman visit her website at www.goldgraphix.com, which has extensive information about her art work, an online catalog of her “wearable art”. Private studio tours are available by appointment only, 260-1010.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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