It is with sadness that we share the passing of another metalsmith. J. Fred Woell died April 2, 2015 at his home in Deer Isle, Maine. He was 81.
Woell was “known for using political and social commentary in the creation of jewelry,” according to a statement released by The Metal Museum Executive Director Carissa Hussong. “He was renowned for his found object assemblages, reflecting and critiquing the throwaway culture of late 20th century America with his characteristic wry humor.”
He taught at The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Boston University; Swain School of Design, New Bedford, MA; Haystack Mountain School, Deer Isle, ME; and SUNY/New Paltz, NY. His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Art and Design, (formerly Contemporary Crafts Museum) NYC; L.A. County Museum of Art, CA; Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Houston Art Museum, TX; and the Hermitage State Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Woell received the Lifetime Achievement Award from SNAG in 2012, and the Florida National Metalsmiths Hall of Fame award in 2010. He held MFAs from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, University of Wisconsin, and Cranbrook Academy.
The new documentary film about Woell titled J. Fred Woell: An American Vision is a documentary that features interviews with: Paul Smith, former director of the Museum of Contemporary Craft; Helen Drutt, curator and educator; and Glenn Adamson, former director of the Museum of Arts and Design, among others. The film is sponsored by the Union of Maine Visual Artists.