New Paltz Professor Selected As Master Metalsmith

Photo Courtesy of Myra Mimlitsch-Gray.
Photo Courtesy of Myra Mimlitsch-Gray.
Photo Courtesy of Myra Mimlitsch-Gray.

New Paltz art professor Myra Mimlitsch-Gray is currently debuting a retrospective exhibit called “Master Metalworks” at the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Mimlitsch-Gray explained that it is not at all unusual that she is presenting work in Memphis.

“The museum selects its Master Metalsmiths in consultation with previous Masters and a review of those active in the field,” said Mimlitsch-Gray.  “It is an honor bestowed annually.”

The “Master Metalsmith” series began in 1984 and being selected is one of the highest honors a metalworker can receive in the field, according to the Metal Museum’s website.

The exhibit shows off metalworks from her entire career, with pieces dating from 1985 to 2013.

“The show is a retrospective, so I took the opportunity to revisit my work of the past 30 years and decide which work could best capture themes and shifts in the work over that time,” said Mimlitsch-Gray.

Her metalworks vary in size, appearance and functionality.  The exhibition displays over 50 works that fluctuate from practical cooking and dining equipment to brooches, rings and necklaces.

Myra Mimlitsch-Gray earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1986, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Philadelphia College of Art in 1984.

She started working at New Paltz in 1993 as an assistant professor.

Mimlitsch always tries to transfer her expertise to New Paltz students.

“My work tends to feature craft as both form and concept,” said Mimlitsch-Gray. “Exploring this balance between thinking about making and making about thinking is integral to my teaching at all levels.”

This is the not first time Mimlitsch-Gray has been featured in an art exhibition.  Her work has been featured at the Dorsky several times and she was a co-curator in two exhibitions that featured the Metal and Jewelry collection on campus.  She also had an exhibition called “Something Under the Table” at the Dorsky in 2013.

Being selected as a “Master Metalsmith” is one of the many honors she has been awarded. She received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998 for her work at SUNY New Paltz.

Other awards include the 2012 United States Artists Glasgow Fellowship in Craft and Traditional Arts, as well as fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.  She has had her work cited in many publications, including those of the Smithsonian Institute and Yale University.

Mimlitsch-Gray currently resides in Memphis, and will soon begin to assist the Museum with their “Repair Days” program, which goes from Oct. 2 – 5. The program allows people to bring in broken or damaged metal objects, which adept metalworkers can fix or turn into works of art.  The museum also recieves donations of metalworks from metal enthusiasts to help support the museum.

Mimlitsch-Gray said that she is currently working on new forms of art.

“My current focus is on the enameling process and its application toward sculptural and tableware outcomes,” she said.  “It’s been very challenging and a completely different approach for me. Also, color is entering into my work, which is exciting and difficult at once.”

Mimlitsch-Gray’s “Master Metalworks” exhibition lasts until Nov. 30, 2014.