Alum Jo Bennett’s typical workday begins with a cup of coffee, the WKMS morning news, and an in-depth reading of some theories and research.
Once in their art studio, they prepare for a full day of productions and commissions, with maybe a client consultation or two.
“[My favorite things are] the ability to manipulate material that is often viewed as hard and immobile, ”Bennett said. “I continue to be amazed at what can be done with just a little skill. Second is seeing customer appreciation, hearing how much they like to wear or use what I create, often showing off when they see me.
Bennett creates works of art using goldsmithing. Metallurgy uses a variety of processes such as casting, forging and fabrication, Bennett said.
Bennett rents his art studio from the Murray Art Guild, where they also volunteer, help out at the guild market, and answer questions from visitors or workshop attendees.
Their exhibition, “Leftovers”, after two years of preparation, opened as planned on Friday, November 5 at the Murray Art Guild.
While studying art and design at Murray State, they discovered metallurgy and today use it in their own studio, JBenn Studio. Some of the commissioned pieces they make are legacy pieces, such as Reformed jewelry made from a mother and grandmother’s wedding rings.
Originally, Bennett’s career plan was to attend pastry school and work in a bakery. After graduating, they said that they had lost interest in the field, but still wanted to continue with art, so they returned to Murray State to join the art and design program.
“As part of the program, I took the opportunity to explore as many areas and processes as possible, but eventually fell in love with the craft field, which allowed me to focus on on metallurgy and woodworking, ”Bennett said.
Their exhibition features work from the college to date. Bennett said they saw it as a continuation of their past work.
“I’ve always been drawn to the nature of fragility and the ephemeral, and the desperate attempts we often make to preserve memory or prevent loss,” Bennett said. “The result is an object that acts as both a memorial and a memento mori. “
After graduating from Murray State, Bennett found himself without a studio to work in. They said they left their previous job for personal and medical reasons.
“I thought I’d rather break my back doing what I love rather than doing it in a dead end job without support and appreciation,” Bennett said. “This decision was made easier thanks to the tremendous support of everyone at the Guild as well as friends and colleagues from the great Forge community.
As a solution, they decided to rent a private studio from Murray Art Guild in 2018. They said the environment in the Guild was incredibly supportive of their efforts as an artist.
“Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without them,” Bennett said. “In fact, this show was scheduled two years ago this month when I announced that I would be going into business for myself as a full-time artist, jeweler and silversmith. It has been quite an opportunity to build towards and I am always grateful for their support and willingness to help celebrate this milestone with me.
After a day at the studio, Bennett said they felt exhausted, but the job wasn’t done yet. Administrative work, such as accounting, social media, emailing, or answering phone calls, occupies a large portion of their nights.
“The best nights, however, are when I work on personal projects while continuing to explore other forms of media; lately, its fibers and weaving, ”Bennett said. “Despite all this hard work and sometimes not-so-fun tasks, I haven’t woken up dreading my job yet.”
Bennett said they draw inspiration from many local artists.
“There are so many talented artists here in Murray and the surrounding area, it’s hard to say,” Bennett said. “I think what inspires me the most is their determination and dedication to the job they love so much, as well as their sense of community and their willingness to share their knowledge and support others in the process. aim to develop the artistic community and ensure its survival. “
The reception for the “leftovers” will be held at 5 pm on Friday, November 12 at the Murray Art Guild.