Today we shine the spotlight on Munya Avigail Upin, a Drake Alum and silversmith from Chatham, New York. Munya is best known for her exquisite metalwork that combines metal and fiber techniques. Munya makes functional and sculptural objects that serve as an unwritten memoir that encompasses dreams, pain, surprises and realizations. She’s taught at many prestigious schools across the US, and Munya and her works have been featured in top publications such as Metalsmith and American Craft. Read more to see her detailed pieces and to learn more about her process and motivation.
Munya Upin is a metalsmith and educator living in the living in Hudson Valley. Born in Faribault, Minnesota, she received a BFA from Drake University, an MA from San Diego State University, and an MFA from California State University, Fullerton. She was artist-in-residence at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and has taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas; Penland School of Crafts; and the Massachusetts College of Art.
Munya employs skills generally associated with fibers and textiles in the making of original jewelry and sculpture, and she is regarded by many as an authority on combining metal and fiber techniques. Photographs of her work have appeared in Metalsmith, Niche, American Craft, and Arline Fisch’s Textile Techniques in Metal. She is an award-winning metalsmith who has exhibited nationally and internationally for 45 years. Her exquisite metalwork is in private and public collections through the United States and Europe.
The evolution of one’s work is like a memoir in progress. Narrative work coexists with functional work and both say something about the maker. The work may depict one’s childhood dreams, a circuitous journey through life, or serve to enhance a ceremony. Whatever the statement or purpose, the work is genuine and revealing.
My work is represented by both sculptural and functional objects. The sculptures portray aspects of my life from childhood to adulthood. The pieces are about dreams, pain, surprises and realizations. Though the imagery ranges from non-representational to figurative, all the sculpture, in one way or another, documents my memories. The work is both evocative and cathartic and serves as my unwritten memoir.
The Jewish ceremonial pieces evolved out of a desire to create beautiful objects for weekly and yearly ritual celebrations. I am intrigued by the history of these objects as well as the challenge to design pieces for use in a contemporary setting. Most of the Judaica contains woven elements which create a uniquely rich, textural surface. These surfaces, combined with clean simple forms, express my design sensibilities and my attempts to make ritual objects that elevate the ceremony with which they are associated.
Fan Brooch. Argentium silver, copper, pearl. Private Collection. 6 x 5 x 1″.
Thanks Oskar. Pendant. 14k gold, Bakelite, pearl. 5 x 3 x .5″.
Ruby Vine Pendant. Sterling and fine silver, ruby. 3 x 2 x .5″.
For RBG – Collar/Necklace. Sterling and fine silver, pearl. 14 x 8 x .5″.
Bursting Forth Brooch. Argentium silver, copper, pearl. 8 x 3 x 1.5″.
Work in Progress and Glimpse at Process:
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