Traveling around the world in 1975, Michael Bondi became fascinated with the art of blacksmithing while visiting his brother at the Simon Benetton studio in Treviso, Italy. The wide range of ironwork styles being produced there opened up a plethora of ideas and emotions for him. The textures, quality of workmanship, and the possibilities of taking an ancient craft and transposing its techniques into modern forms were very exciting. On returning to the United States, he and his brother Stephen opened their first blacksmithing shop in Berkeley, California in 1977.
When Michael and Stephen started their business, they began working with architects who were looking for artistic, high-quality, traditional and non-traditional ironwork. These collaborations proved to be the beginning of a successful partnership that secured their position in the world of decorative, architectural, and fine art wrought ironwork . During this period, they centered on the heavy forging of steel and the use of its plasticity to model the forms much like clay.
When he started his own architectural design shop in the mid-80s , Michael began developing more non-traditional work within the ironwork genre. He was drawn to the European Art Deco and Arts and Crafts movements and began to explore the use of textured material in contrast to smooth surfaces. Michael also incorporated non-ferrous metals such as copper, bronze and monel to introduce contrast in color. In continuing development of his work, he has introduced machined metal parts and geometric shapes in contrast to forged surfaces. Michael has been involved in a dialogue between art, craft, architecture and function for 35 years. His work is focused on wrought metals (blacksmithing) as an artistic expression for ornamentation in architecture with the challenge of combining artistic creativity within the confines of architecture, form and function.
Leslie Noell is an artist, designer, and educator based in western North Carolina. Leslie is the director of programs at Penland School of Crafts where she plans educational programming in a range of craft and fine art media and oversees artist residencies, exhibitions, and community collaboration projects. She has lectured widely and often serves as a guest critic and curator.
Leslie earned a degree in graphic design from NC State University College of Design and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She spent two years as a core fellow at Penland exploring craft media and processes and studied typography and printmaking at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Leslie has been a resident artist at Caversham Press (Kwazulu Natal, South Africa), Jentel Artist Residency Program (Banner, WY), and the Winter Print Residency at Penland. Her work has been shown throughout the country in a number of exhibitions including the Hickory Museum of Art, Holter Museum of Art, Asheville Art Museum, and Mobile Museum of Art.
Vivian Beer is a furniture designer/maker based in New England. Her sleek, abstracted metal and concrete furniture combines contemporary design, craft, and sculpture creating objects that alter expectations of and interface with our domestic landscape. Her work is in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, MFA Boston, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Arts and Design and the cities of Portland ME, Cambridge MA and Arlington VA. She holds a Master’s degree in Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art, has held many residencies including Penland School, Museum of Glass, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and was recently name named a 2017 USA fellow.
Patrick J. Quinn currently runs the forging program at the Center for Metal Arts in Johnstown Pa. where he teaches the resident blacksmithing classes and coordinates the visiting artist workshops. Patrick has taught blacksmithing, fabrication, and tool making at Southern Illinois University, Hereford College of the arts, The Penland School of Craft, The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and The Adirondack Folk School.
Patrick is a 2015 Niche award winner, and has work in the Evansville IN Museum of Art and science permanent collection. His work has been featured in juried exhibitions such as “Transitions” (Belgium), and “FORGE” (UK), “Craft Forms”, “43rd Mid States Craft Exhibition”, “New York Silver, Then and Now”(Museum of the City of New York) and “Metal in Motion” (National Ornamental Metal Museum).
With a passion for sculpture and education Patrick uses forging as a vehicle to express himself sculpturally and uses toolmaking and teaching as a way to share what he finds so intrinsic about metalworking with his students. With a firm belief in “quality work starts with quality tooling,” Pat uses this philosophy to forge the best possible tooling for the Center for Metal Arts and himself. Trying to give all the students the best quality education is atop his priority list and he works tirelessly to try to make the Center for Metal Arts the best forging classroom it can be.
Pat’s sculpture is a mix of technique-driven and expressive forgings. Often inspired by joinery techniques, he uses these as an outlet for sculpture and a way to join together contemporary forgings. Exercising a keen eye for design and developing work through both form and line, Pat is drawn to simple forgings, and building work with multiples. Reliant on design and composition, his work combines clean forgings with carefully contemplated construction.
Dan Neville received his BFA in metalsmithing form Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and recently his MFA degree in metalsmithing at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Dan has taught at numerous schools and universities including the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Austin Community College in Texas. Dan has exhibited his work extensively at venues such as the Metal Museum in Tennessee, the Evansville Museum in Indiana, and the Tsubame Industrial Materials Museum in Japan. Dan has been awarded several research grants through the Windgate Foundation and other organizations. Dan is currently the associate director of the Center for Metal Arts.
Andrew Kyte is a blacksmith and designer working in steel, stainless steel and bronze. He honed his craft and design aesthetic through more than a decade of travel working with internationally recognized master craftsman in the U.S. and Europe.
He has executed pieces for the National Cathedral and Catholic University in Washington D.C. as well as for a number of private residences across the country.
In 2013 Andrew opened the doors of Kyte Metalwerks in his home town, Ann Arbor, Michigan. His studio designs and creates contemporary architectural metalwork as well as public art combining traditional forging techniques and modern fabrication methods.
Rachel David, raised in Maryland and a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana is a blacksmith, sculptor, designer, and maker. In her practice, she synthesizes self reflection and societal systemic criticism translating it to making change in the world she lives in through her works, words, and actions. Her practice includes sculpture, custom architectural work, and furniture, all working to convey social and environmental justice, and workshops that build community rather than competition.
Rachel has been the visiting artist at SIU Carbondale, IL, NOCCA the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, LA, The Crucible, CA, and Community-First Forge in Austin TX. Rachel has shown nationally in solo, intimate collaborations and group exhibitions. Her work has been published in books and magazines including Ironwork Today 4, Imago Mundi; Reparations, and (T)Here Magazine and collected by the City of New Orleans, the Simone Benetton Foundation, and numerous private collectors.