Upcoming Exhibitions

Iron for Honor
Cast Iron Jewelry from the Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art

August 14, 2016 - November 6, 2016

During the early 19th century, cast iron was a primary material used in the production of decorative objects and the lack of prejudice against it ensured that vast quantities of cast-iron objects were made and sold throughout Europe. Like monumental engineering and architectural works of the period, such as bridges and factories, the plaques, sculptures, pieces of jewelry, and household utensils cast in iron are equally representative of an early industrial age; they both document and reflect fundamental socio- economic, political and aesthetic changes that occurred in the decorative arts during the period leading up to the Industrial Revolution.

Curated by Anne Forschler-Tarrasch, Ph.D., Iron for Honor showcases 38 pieces of European cast-iron jewelry from the collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art. About 1810, the three Royal Prussian Iron Foundries began to produce delicate cast-iron jewelry, which became enormously popular during the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon’s hegemony in Europe. Citizens were encouraged to relinquish their precious metals to help fund the war effort and were given iron jewelry in exchange. Some pieces included the inscription, Gold gab ich für Eisen (I gave gold for iron) or Zum Wohl des Vaterlandes (For the welfare of our country). By donating their gold jewelry in exchange for similar pieces cast in iron, Prussian citizens, particularly women, could actively participate in the war effort. Although not successful, a cast-iron revival was attempted in 1916 to help fund Germany during World War I. At this time, gold was traded for an iron medallion that read I give gold towards our defense effort and I take iron for honor.

Images: Cross Pendant, about 1820, Royal Prussian Iron Foundry, Berlin (operated 1804-1874) or Johann Conrad Geiss (German, 1772-1846; private foundry established about 1814); Necklace fragment, 1820-1830, probably Johann Conrad Geiss (German, 1772-1846; private foundry established about 1814); Pair of Earrings, 1820-1830, Royal Prussian Iron Foundry, Berlin (operated 1804-1874) or Royal Prussian Iron Foundry, Gleiwitz (operated 1798-1872). Images courtesy of the Birmingham Museum of Art.

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Master Metalsmith: Hoss Haley
August 28, 2016 - January 1, 2017

The 2016 Master Metalsmith is Hoss Haley, a sculptor well known for his works in steel, concrete and bronze. Master Metalsmith: Hoss Haley showcases several bodies of work from the sculptor including his White Series, Erratics, Torics, Coils, Spheres and Ripples. Several larger sculptures are displayed outdoors in the Museum's Sculpture Garden while smaller scale works, models, drawings and video of Hoss's public installation and process are on view in the Gasparrini Galleries and give deeper understanding to the skill, creativity and planning required for the construction of these monumental works of art. The exhibition explores themes of disposable material culture, balance, and process and is accompanied by a catalog.

Images: Erratic Union No. 1, 2012; Tesselation, 2013; Pulled Coil, 2010. Images courtesy of Hoss Haley.

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Tributaries: Cozette Phillips

November 13, 2016 - January 22, 2017

Cozette Phillips creates sculpture that is both technically sophisticated and conceptually intriguing. Through her creative process, she endeavors to raise ecological consciousness by capturing the mark of existence in something that is fleeting, impermanent and affected by its surroundings. Phillips interprets natural forms by combining materials such as Steel, Aluminum, Pewter, Plastics and Concrete to evoke the influence of industry and development. The tension between material and form speak to the perpetual transformation of our environments, emphasizing that nothing is static or fixed. Tributaries: Cozette Phillips showcases recent and new work.

Image: Looking Back, 2015. Image courtesy of Cozette Phillips.