Published: April 29, 2008
“L. Brent Kington: Mythic Metalsmith” is on view at the Illinois State Museum Chicago Gallery through August 1. Kington, recognized as pioneering the resurgence of blacksmithing as an American art form, is one of 39 people in the United States to date to receive the American Craft Council’s Gold Medal, the council’s highest award to individual artists.
The exhibition features objects borrowed from private and museum collections and includes early cast silver and bronze toys of the 1960s, pivotal pieces of forged iron and steel that transition into blacksmithing, a series of forged iron kinetic weathervanes and “Icarus” pieces, and, larger contemporary abstract sculptures, including crosiers, spires and crescents.
In 1962, after finishing his master of fine arts degree in metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, Kington went to Carbondale to head the Metals Program at Southern Illinois University’s Art Department. Kington’s passion for developing the Metals Program at SIU led to the establishment of the one and only available master of fine arts degree in blacksmithing offered today in the United States.
Kington learned blacksmithing from the Deal brothers in Murphysboro, Ill., one of whom was trained at Tuskegee University, and the other, an elderly, retired blacksmith. After honing his skills for several years, he studied and incorporated arc welding to his techniques and opened a blacksmith shop at his home. In 1969, he stopped working in small-scale precious metals and committed to working in ferrous metals and creating larger work as a blacksmith.
During Kington’s 35 years at Southern Illinois University, he served as chair of the School of Art and Design for ten years before retiring in 1997. He has participated in more than 370 exhibitions, with more than 22 solo shows. He continues his work from his home in Makanda, Ill.
The Illinois State Museum Chicago Gallery is at 100 West Randolph on the second floor of the James R. Thompson Center. For information, www.museum.state.il.us or 312-814-5322.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm