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Jeweler Turns Rugged Material into Wearable Art: Artist Sally Marsland Lectures at SUNY New Paltz

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NEW PALTZ -- Jeweler and metalsmith Sally Marsland will discuss her work as part of an artist lecture series sponsored by the Student Art Association at SUNY New Paltz. Marsland's talk, which is free and open to the public, is Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2002, at 7:30 p.m, in the college's Lecture Center, Room 100.

Internationally known for turning rugged materials into wearable art, Marsland has made a career of pushing the boundaries of traditional jewelry - fashioning bicycle tubing into delicate rose petal brooches as easily as she spins gold into wedding bands. A pin, says the artist, needn't be merely diamonds and pearls. "The spectrum is a lot wider than a lot of people think," she explains. Gold and silver may be ubiquitous, "but much more is possible if you expand the parameters."

In 2001 Marsland did exactly that in "Almost Black," an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. The title and much of the work resulted from a happy accident - the artist's experimental mixing of car body filler with graphite pigment. Combined, the two became dark and shiny, much like oxidized silver, and Marsland made several pieces with the new substance. Inspired by its metallic tone, she set out to find other "almost black" materials: refrigerator magnets and ebony, glass beads and ski pole carbon fiber, black star sapphires and slate.

In a review of the show, Marsland was described as an artist who could turn the mundane into the magical. Her unique alchemy had made, "Manufactured materials suddenly seem delicate and wistful."

Nature often grounds her work. Seedpod shapes come from anodized aluminum; oxidized silver turns into roses, but Marsland strives for boldness in her technique. A recent piece came from scanning an image of industrial emery board onto photo-sensitive ceramic, for example. As a jeweler, however, she values restraint. A simple piece of ebony might stand alone with nothing but a clasp.

Marsland, whose works are included in museum collections from Tokyo to Tasmania, began as an architecture student. Though she soon realized her skills were best suited to a smaller scale, an involvement with industrial materials remains.

She has been a regular exhibitor at Gallery Funaki in Melbourne, Australia since it opened in 1995, and has also shown work in Germany, Amsterdam, Scotland and Washington.

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