Contact: Gail Rost, Co-Chair, Hatch Creative Reuse Art Festival, Hatch@the-idea-store.org
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Jewelry artists David and Roberta Williamson of Berea, Ohio, believe everyone has a story to tell. And when they visit Champaign-Urbana next February as the Hatch Visiting Artists-in-Residence, the Williamsons will share their own life story — a creative partnership built on a dual foundation: their love for each other and their passion for beautiful objects with a history.
While in residence in Champaign-Urbana, the couple — who met while both were students at Northern Illinois University, then crafted an artful life and career together — also will provide opportunities for school children and community members to create and share their own personal stories with found objects and repurposed items and artifacts.
The Williamsons’ residency is part of the multifaceted Hatch Creative-Reuse Art Festival, an annual celebration of resourcefulness and reinvention produced by The I.D.E.A. Store. The store is billed as the area’s premier creative-reuse marketplace and an earned-income social enterprise of the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation. The 2015 festival will take place Feb. 26 through March 14 in various venues throughout Champaign County.
In addition to hosting the Williamsons’ residency, Hatch includes a juried art exhibition, on view throughout most of the festival (Feb. 28 through March 14) at Indi Go Artist Co-op in downtown Champaign; a trash-fashion, or “trashion” show at Lincoln Square on Feb. 27; a juried art fair March 14 at the Savoy Recreational Center; and a number of other auxiliary activities.
“The festival celebrates the creative spirit of local, regional and even nationally known artists who work in the creative-reuse genre, using cast-off materials that might otherwise end up in the landfill,” said Gail Rost, co-chair of the Hatch organizing team and co-founder of The I.D.E.A. Store with Carol Jo Morgan.
“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to bring the Williamsons to our community, as they have been blazing the trail in the field of repurposed and recycled art for many years,” Rost said. “Their whimsical brooches, necklaces and other works of art typically marry ephemera and three-dimensional artifacts from the past — passed down in their families or acquired from antiques stores, flea markets and other sources — with fine jewelry-making techniques and craftsmanship.”
The Williamsons teach at Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. Roberta Williamson, a lecturer in the university’s studio art department, received her bachelor’s degree in education from NIU and a master of fine arts degree in jewelry and metalsmithing from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. David Williamson is professor of studio art at Baldwin-Wallace and has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from NIU in DeKalb and an MFA from VCU.
They have collaborated as partners in their metals studio for nearly 45 years, each contributing individual strengths to their collective enterprise. Roberta brings her intuitive sense for creating design combinations to the table, while David contributes his top-notch technical skills.
The jewelry artists’ fascination with nature often surfaces in their work. They also are inspired by their lives together and their individual histories and memories. Their work can be found in a number of international collections, including the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2009, the pair was featured in the popular two-part PBS series “Craft in America.”
As Hatch visiting artists-in-residence, they will kick off the festival at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Champaign Public Library with a free public talk titled “Garden of Dreams: The Work of Artists David and Roberta Williamson.” The next day (Feb. 27), they will work with local middle school and high school art students. On Feb. 28, they will present an all-day, advanced-level jewelry workshop for adults (age 18+) in the University of Illinois campus studio of Billie Theide, a professor of art and design and the James Avery Endowed Chair of the College of Fine and Applied Arts.
Through their workshops, the Williamsons encourage students to “find their own stories” by incorporating meaningful, memory-inducing objects into the jewelry they create. In the Hatch workshop, geared toward college-level students and members of the public with some experience and skills in jewelry-making or other hands-on visual arts or fine craft, the Williamsons will teach participants how to transform found objects into “reservoirs” for preserving ephemera or other small items, and how to preserve the materials using resin. They’ll also demonstrate how to create a bezel and use cold connections to join elements of the pieces they create.
More information on the workshop, which will cost $100 per person, and how to register will be available soon on the Hatch website, here.
The Williamsons’ work also will be featured in the Hatch Art Exhibition at Indi Go as well, and they will appear at the show’s free public opening reception from 7-9 p.m. on Feb. 28.
Rost said frequent updates on all Hatch-related activities will continue to be added to the festival website. She encourages those interested in attending, participating in or even volunteering to help with the festival to consult the Hatch website and Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/AboutHatch often for the latest news.
(REPORTERS, EDITORS, NEWS DIRECTORS: High-resolution images of the Williamsons’ work are available by contacting Gail Rost at firstname.lastname@example.org.)