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Helen Shirk
Helen Shirk Sculpture Hand Crafted Studio Vessel, Copper Patina, Colored Pencils




Title: Red Pod, CV110V, San Diego, 1997 Fabricated, hammered copper, colored pencils, patina. This is not signed. It bears a label on the interior and the artist has kindly confirmed the attribution to me. Helen Shirk (b.1942 American) Museum quality published work. Shirk was a professor of jewelry and metalsmithing at San Diego State University. Helen Shirk is a metalsmith, jeweler and educator. She is known for her large richly colored copper vessels that draw on the power and diversity of the natural world for inspiration and meaning. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright Grant and two NEA Craftsmen’s Fellowships and was elected a Fellow of the American Crafts Council in 1999. She has been a frequent workshop leader and lecturer and her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. It is documented in numerous publications and included in public collections, among them the Victoria and Albert Museum, Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim, National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Mint Museum of Craft and Design, American Craft Museum, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Oakland Museum, Mingei International Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian.The National Museum of Women in the Arts named Helen Shirk as the first female artist honored with the title Master Metalsmith. Shirk received a New York Regents scholarship to attend college in New York state, and she chose to attend the all-female Skidmore College in Saratoga, NY. Shirk knew she wanted to pursue a degree in art, and at Skidmore, she took courses in screen printing, life drawing, weaving, and jewelry. She took her first jewelry class with enamellist and painter Earl Pardon almost by accident, as all other art courses had filled up by the time she registered for classes. In 1963, she graduated from Skidmore with a BS in Studio, Fine Arts, and Jewelry. Shirk’s work evolved over the years, beginning with her early Scandinavian-influenced designs in the 1970s. Her sterling silver vessels and jewelry from this period were a reflection of a 1963 Fulbright to Denmark, and incorporated the characteristics of this popular style. During her senior year at Skidmore, Pardon had encouraged her to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship, which Shirk was awarded that same year. From the summer of 1963 through June 1964, Shirk lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, and there she studied at the Kunsthåndværkerskolen (now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design) and worked on her own pieces out of the Otto Hertz jewelry studio and shop. After spending a couple more years in Europe, Shirk decided to go to graduate school for metalsmithing. She attended Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, IN, and in 1969, she earned an MFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing while studying under Alma Eikerman. Shirk retired from SDSU in 2010 as a Professor Emeritus of Jewelry and Metalsmithing, and she guided many others who are now educators and studio artists in the field of metalsmithing. During her time as an educator, Shirk also took sabbaticals to complete artist-in residencies all over the world, which in turn influenced how her work developed over time. In 1983, she was a resident at the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture, and Design, London Metropolitan University, London, England. This one has an organic, flora, fauna, vegetation quality to it. Shirk has been an actively exhibiting studio artist since she was an undergraduate student at Skidmore, and she has participated in many group and solo exhibitions themed around contemporary craft, jewelry, and hollowware. Her early work was included in many of the pivotal exhibitions in the 1960s and 1970s about contemporary craft and metals, including the 1962 exhibition Young Americans 62’, Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY; and the Society of North American Goldsmiths’ (SNAG) first exhibition Goldsmith ’70, Saint Paul Art Center, St Paul, MN. Art in Crafts: Works in Fiber, Clay and Metal by Women, Bronx Museum, NY Modern American Jewelry, Mikimoto & Company, Ltd., Tokyo, Japan." She was included in ART FOR USE", an exhibition commissioned by the National Fine Arts Committee of the XII Olympic Games which was shown at the Center for Music, Drama & Art in Lake Placid, New York followed by a showing in New York at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts. 100 works by 72 craftspeople illustrated unique American handmade works with a focus on function and included objects by Peter Shire, Richard Marquis, Helen Shirk and Robert Stocksdale. She was included in the seminal show California Handmade: State of the Arts from the Sam Maloof collection. An exhibition of innovative sculpture, furniture, textiles, jewelry and decorative arts & crafts by more than 80 visionary California artists, curated by Craft in America Center Director Emily Zaiden. The exhibition takes inspiration from the California Design shows originated by the Pasadena Art Museum in the 1950’s. Craft advocate and curator Eudorah Moore (1918‐2014), whose writings helped to define the studio craft movement in America. Metal/Jewelry: Abrasha, Kristin Beeler, Steven Brixner, Petra Class, Jack da Silva, Marilyn da Silva, Sandra Enterline, Arline Fisch, Kris Patzlaff, Sondra Sherman, Helen Shirk, Christina Smith, Randy Stromsoe, Julia Turner. Alternative: Tanya Aguiñiga, Jennifer Anderson, Elizabeth Boyne, Michele Burgess & Bill Kelly, Macy Chadwick, Julie Chen, Evan Chambers, Adrian Clutario, The Haas Brothers, Sonia Kim, Mary Little, Perla Yasmeen Meléndez, Harry & Sandra Reese, Dorothy Yule. Her 1989 retrospective Master Metalsmith exhibition was called Helen Shirk: 20 Years. Select Museums and Collections Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, PA Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, NY Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, CA Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. Schmuckmuseum, Pforzheim, Germany Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, UK SELECT BOOKS Gioiello & Jewellery, Museo Del Gioiello Vicenza, Vincenza, Italia, 2016 Beyond Bling, Contemporary Jewelry from the Lois Boardman Collection, LACMA 2016 California Handmade: State of the Arts, Craft in America, Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation, 2015 Gifts from America: 1948-2013, Modern and Contemporary Applied Arts from the Hermitage Museum Showcase 500 Art Necklaces, Lark Crafts, Sterling Publishing, New York, 2013 San Diego’s Craft Revolution: From Post-War Modern to California Design, Mingei Museum, 2011 Jewelry by Artists 1940-2000, Kelly L’Ecuyer, Boston Museum of Fine Arts Publications, 2010 Points of Departure: Helen Shirk and Alumni of SDSU, Everett Jackson Gallery, San Diego State University Form and Function: American Modernist Jewelry, 1940-1970, Marbeth Schon, Schiffer, 2008 Ornament as Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection, Arnoldsche, Stuttgart, Contemporary Enameling: Art & Techniques, Lilyan Bachrach, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Jan 2006 Modern Jewelry 1955-1995, Fritz Falk, Arnoldsche, 1999


  • Creator
    Helen Shirk (1942, American)
  • Creation Year
  • Dimensions
    Height: 22.5 in. (57.15 cm)Width: 10 in. (25.4 cm)Depth: 5 in. (12.7 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
  • Gallery Location
    Bal Harbour, FL
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU3828732082

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    Ships From: Bal Harbour, FL
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