The Garrett County Arts Council is excited to shine this month’s spotlight on an accomplished member artist who works with unusual tools, metals, and other organic items to produce fascinating and unique jewelry. Macee Knecht is a member of GCAC and was also a founding member of the former Arts at Canal Place in Cumberland. Her work is striking, inspired by the artist’s love of her lineage and her fascination with metals.
Macee creates sculptural metal jewelry and sculpture utilizing primarily forging and metalsmithing techniques. She uses some forging tools that were collected from her ancestors or that are antiques, such as two anvils passed from her grandfather, and an old power hammer. Her sculptural jewelry has an antiqued textural appearance — sometimes industrial and other times organic — in items made of silver, gold, brass, copper, mild steel, and even found objects.
Macee said she has been an artist since she was “a little girl in ponytails.” Macee loved drawing with charcoals, painting with oil and acrylics, or doing anything in crafting. She said her love and application of metals, to which she currently works, came over 23 years ago. She started taking specific classes in metal, sculpture, and metal jewelry at Frostburg State University and Touchstone Center for Crafts, and dove into books geared toward metalsmithing. Macee also recalled skills she saw her grandfather perform in his metal shop when she was a little girl.
Her artistic talents have been applied primarily to designing, making, and selling metal forged jewelry for over 20 years through galleries, cooperatives, fine art shows, studio tours, and directly. She also has been involved in boards and organizations where other aspects of her artistic talents have been utilized to help the organizations or artists within them. Nine years of this time was spent in being a founding member of the Arts at Canal Place. She has taught individual and group jewelry classes, as well as assisted with other critiquing groups or in jewelry classes through Frostburg State University and the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsman.
Macee attributes her inspiration in metal work to her grandfather and metal working ancestors. She feels that when she works with the actual tools used by her predecessors, she transfers that energy into her art. She is inspired by nature as well, by such things as twigs, fungus, pods, and insects and things caught in webs or trees, and she pokes in eddies along rivers edges exploring while kayaking.
“Sometimes I bring home the actual items to incorporate into my work and with others I bring back the creative inspiration that I found, in particular the textures of our lush country,” the artist said. “I enjoy using nature such as the breeze flowing across a field of grass or by the organic use of the shape of a fungus, or perhaps the way nature reacts to metals left behind to deteriorate and rust in a river.” She said she appreciates and uses the living energy that is found, as well as the natural counterpart of death and decay, to pull ideas from and to transfer into her work. The energy found in people, other professional artists in her medium, and situations can all inspire her as well.
The artist has won many awards over the years for her jewelry and sculpture at gallery events and in fine art shows around the country. She has been a part of arts organizations and boards over the years that have helped to further her work and the artistic work and endeavors of others.
“But nothing can quite compare to making something that comes from the heart and ends up in the hand of a customer who cherishes the work and falls in love with it and makes it their own,” Macee said. “I love taking something that may have an inspiration or connection to my grandfather, or from something harsh, and reinventing it into something that becomes loved and cherished. The accomplishment that it becomes something positive and cared about is a huge achievement. It’s the cycle of giving from the past to the future that is so gratifying.”
The GCAC has played a role in her success over the years by selling her work and creating networking opportunities and connections to programs and other artists. She has been a member of the arts council over the years, and her work has been sold in The Gallery Shop. She was featured in a solo show for jewelry, and taught jewelry workshops through GCAC’s arts education programming. Macee recently joined the SEYMOUR Arts Experience of the GCAC and is excited about the prospects of the program. She feels it will be a great complement to the direction of her work. You can find her SEYMOUR site at https://www.seymourart.org/macee-knecht
To artists who may just be starting out in the jewelry and metalworking art world, Macee says first and foremost, learn your art medium well!
“Dive into classes constantly to further your knowledge and to always gather information on new techniques and skills to stay relevant in your medium,” the artist said. “Consider becoming part of a skilled critic group or find a mentor who can help you learn how to properly assess your own work and edit out what is not quality. Get connected to art organizations, and network and socialize with other people both inside and outside the industry.”
In selling one’s work, Macee advises further education on how to market and promote oneself or find others to help with that aspect of the business. Meeting and networking with those individuals is key.
“You never know where your next project or sale will come from, so be open to those connections,” Macee said. To learn more about the artist, you may go online to www.meadowbrookarts.blogspot.com, find her on Facebook at Meadowbrook Arts – Macee Knecht, on Instagram at meadowbrookarts, on Twitter as meadowbrookarts, and through email at email@example.com.
The Garrett County Arts Council appreciates Macee Knecht as a unique and accomplished career artist, and is made better by artist memberships such as hers. She joins a group of many impressive arts professionals, whom the GCAC supports, promotes, and celebrates through its nonprofit work. To become a supporting member of the organization, go online to garrettarts.org or call 301-334-6580.
By Mary McEwen of The Garrett County Arts Council