Unlike most of the students I interview for this blog, I have known Margaret Clary for several years. We met as freshmen, when we were both new to James Madison and unsure about our majors. She graduated this past May with a degree in Art and a concentration in Metals and Jewelry. When she sat down to speak with me she wore a ring that she had made in one of her classes. She doesn't think it is anything special, but I disagree. The ring is simple, a silver band set with a large blue stone, and I was so impressed with it that I couldn't wait to see a piece that she was really proud of.
|Margaret's Bronze cast bracelet|
“I prefer bracelets,” she says. “I hate wearing them, but love making them. I just made a piece that turned out really well. I made it in wax first, then cast it in bronze and set a stone in the middle. It took about thirty hours, which is usually the norm.”
With a single piece taking thirty hours, Margaret is understandably busy. Her fascination with art began her freshman year in high school when she took a class with her now favorite teacher, Diego Sanchez. Although it was an art class, he also taught them art history and style, which really helped to make the whole process more interesting for her. When Margaret got to college she was interested in graphic design, but because of difficulties with credit hours she switched to metals and jewelry, and has loved it ever since.
|A handmade wire bracelet with metal flowers|
“My style is very nature-esque, I suppose. Organic. I do a lot of vine work, and I love anything to do with flowers. I wish I had a green thumb, but instead I bring it out in my metal work. Nature inspires me, and I love going on walks and seeing different plants and trees.”
With jewelry making, Margaret's favorite part is the portability of her work. It is impractical to carry around a sculpture or a painting to show everyone, but with jewelry she gets to wear her pieces and share them. Getting recognition for hard work is incredibly satisfying, especially considering how much time and effort go into a single piece. Oftentimes, she says, people forget how much work and dedication goes into art.
“It’s very frustrating,” Margaret says. “A lot of people make fun of me for being an art major, since I usually don't have regular exams and whatnot. I don't think some people realize how much time I put into things, and how much art means to me and other people. I've pulled many all-nighters, and with art you can keep working and not ever really finish.”
Several of the students I have interviewed have said similar things, that their artistic efforts are not always appreciated or taken seriously. But they all say that their art has changed them.
“Metals have definitely pushed my limits,” she says. “In my first class we had to use torches, and I was terrified of fire! I even burned my hair. I was pushed to do things I thought I couldn't do.”
|Metal flower pendant|
Now that Margaret has graduated from JMU, she hopes to return to graphic design. Although she would love to get more experience with metal working, and perhaps intern with a jewelry designer, her real passion is for graphic design. She wants to go into advertising, hopefully staying around Richmond, where she has lived most of her life. Whatever medium she chooses, being an artist has made an impression on her life.
“Art has made me notice the beautiful things around me,” Margaret says. “I take my time and look around and enjoy how beautiful it all is. I think art does that for a lot of people. It makes you look for the good in everything. I know I do.”