UO graduate Erin Gardner has been awarded one of ten Windgate Fellowship Awards, honoring the work of the best emerging university graduates in the United States in her field. Ten $15,000 fellowships are awarded to graduating university seniors or fifth year students on the basis of artistic merit, the future promise of the individual’s work, and potential for the applicant to make a contribution to the advancement of their field.
The Windgate Fellowship Award program was established in 2006, by the University of North Carolina Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, to help encourage and advance the development of serious, innovative artists in the United States whose work is in some way related to, or informed by, the process, material, or idea of craft. Fifty-four universities across the United States, with strong craft/design programs, were invited to nominate two of their graduating seniors to apply for one of the fellowships to be awarded in April 2007.
The University of Oregon’s Department of Art nominated Erin Gardner, recognizing the unique vision and excellence of her work, and her commitment as an artist to studio jewelry. Eighty-one students completed the online application, uploading ten images of their work and a proposal on how this award would advance their artistic goals and career. Erin Gardner’s focus is on jewelry/metalsmithing. She submitted a proposal to research mass-production in Guangdong providence China, home to over 900 jewelry processing centers, in order to develop a craft-based body of work using mass production of sentimental objects as the subject. On her return, she will set up a studio and have an exhibition and lecture at the University of Oregon. Gardner is currently in China conducting her research, based at Shanghai University.
“The potency of craft objects stems from their connection to the maker and their enduring value. I am interested in where craft and mass-production intersect,” says Gardner.
Gardner chose China as her research subject because of the current industrial explosion in China.
“This moment in China’s history is a pivotal time in shaping the future values of craft as China moves towards being potentially the strongest capitalistic force in the world,” explains Gardner.
She will be working with a Professor of Jewelry at Shanghai University, who will assist her in her research and help her establish connections in Shanghai. Gardner believes that seeing the manufacturing plants and meeting the people in Shanghai will help her better understand mass-production in relation to craft.
She is thrilled to be honored with such a prestigious award, and looks forward to the time she will spend in China.
“Being awarded this fellowship has given me the opportunity to research my subject firsthand, as well as the ability to immediately setup my own studio upon return,” says Gardner. “Without this type of funding it would take me several years to establish a complete studio, while working and paying back student loans.”