In May of this year, Grace Stewart, the Museum's Director of Collections and Exhibitions, and I drove to Illinois for a visit with Diana Kington and Brooke Sherritt, Brent Kington's wife and daughter. We left with close to 200 pieces of jewelry and illustrations, created by Brent and given to his family as gifts for anniversaries, birthdays and holidays throughout his life. The jewelry was generously loaned to the Museum for a temporary exhibit by Diana Kington, Tod Kington, Brooke Sherritt and Judi O'Steen.
Brent Kington is known for his kinetic and table-top sculptures. As the founder of this country's only BFA and MFA program in blacksmithing at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Brent is credited with re-introducing metal craft as an art form in the United States. However, the jewelry created for his family had never been put on display. After Brent's passing in 2013, we felt it necessary to honor Brent's contributions to the field of metalworking and to the Metal Museum itself. The collection of jewelry and drawings owned by his wife, children and sister-in-law, Judi, presented the perfect opportunity. The jewelry is fascinating in both process and purpose. Many of the brooches and pendants on display could be considered maquettes for his larger sculptures. However, the purpose of their creation is one not often highlighted in museum exhibitions: Brent created these pieces for love of his family.
We especially enjoy the gold "Trapeze Necklace" in the exhibit, which shares many similarities to Brent's series of cast-silver toys. Brent created this necklace around 1960 for his wife, Diana, to wear to church, hoping that the pendant would occupy their small children during the service. We are so thrilled to be able to share this rare collection of jewelry and drawings with the public. Be sure to visit this exhibit in our Keeler galleries before it ends on October 15th.