Every year, art students have the opportunity to apply to study at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee. Two students from Texas Tech were selected to attend the program over the summer.
Several years ago, the Director of Arrowmont felt it was important Tech students have exposure to their programs, Robly Glover, a professor in jewelry design and metalsmithing, said. Students submit a portfolio of their artwork and a written piece explaining how the classes they choose will relate to their craft, and the committee chooses one student to send to the program.
While in a typical year only one student is chosen to attend the program, this year there were two. Due to COVID-19, last year’s winner was not able to attend, leaving the slot open for the second-place winner to also attend this year.
Clayton Salley, a junior jewelry design major from Austin, was chosen as the first-place winner, and Sean Mcintire, a senior jewelry design major from Lubbock, came in second.
“It’s quite a milestone that two of our students got to go,” Glover said. “The scholarship program was able to find the money, and apparently, the decision was unanimous.”
What makes art jewelry different than commercial jewelry is its artistic orientation rather than wearability and commercial value, Glover said. The students are tasked with giving their art intellectual value and meaning.
Salley’s work was focused on a bean pod-like shape called a spicule made of copper or brass. The most important elements within his work are the relationship between nature, sound and movement.
“You have this three-dimensional oval form, and I think what I like about that is there are so many connotations and associations that can arrive to people through that form,” Salley said. “When you put a bunch of those together, it makes a very nice sound, and I want some of that energy to be conveyed.”
At Arrowmont, Salley will learn how to enamel over his work to add color and create a glass layer, which will change the sound as well. The enameling will change the pitch and tone of the spiculas and allow Salley to explore the performative aspects of his work.
Salley came to the School of Art as a communication major and was inspired by an elective he took in jewelry design. He said he liked it so much he never wanted to stop. Salley has been studying art for three years, taking most of his inspiration from nature, spirituality and architecture.
“I am excited to be around like-minded individuals and foster new ideas and be influenced by a global connectedness of creation,” Salley said. “People across the country are going to have a totally different opinion on creating, and my hope is to see that and allow that to influence my work.”
While Salley’s work focused more on nature, Mcintire’s work focuses on the relationship between technology and the fantastical.
He calls his line of jewelry ‘Modern Magic’ and aims to change the way people view technology, Mcintire said. Society does not approach technology with the same wonder that it used to.
“While we’ve become more accepting of technology, we have lost a lot of our wonder for it,” Mcintire said. “Just look at our cell phones. We are surrounded by these fantastically amazing magical items that we don’t understand fully.”
A love for fantasy literature, medieval elements, Dungeons and Dragons and technology inspired Mcintire’s art. He said he salvages technology from old computers, phones and TVs from second-hand stores and friends and family.
For one-piece, he said he compressed the motherboard of a computer and used it as a stone.
The application process took the candidates about a year. Mcintire has worked closely with Salley for several years in the jewelry design program and has watched him grow into his artwork.
“Clayton is in there all hours of the day. Over the last few semesters, he’s really blossomed into his own ideas, and I am really impressed with his work, and I can absolutely see why he got first place this year,” Mcintire said. “I’m super excited, it’s unusual for two people to be accepted into the program, and I feel super lucky to have this opportunity.”