SAIC iron artists reunite at the 20th Annual Iron Pour
text and photos By Jennifer Mosier
Iron artists are a different breed at SAIC. For one thing, they don’t use cameras that rival the cost of a down payment on a Lexus, and they definitely aren’t working with dainty paintbrushes. Iron artists don’t buy their tools — they make them.
DIY all the way, these “metal heads” literally play with fire. Their spirit and lust for heat unifies their craft, and will be on proud display at “Fe20” — the 20th Annual Iron Pour event in Lake Bluff, Illinois May 6–9, 2010.
The annual iron pour, where iron artists have the freedom to melt and shape iron together, has become a getaway from urban studios. It’s here, in these surroundings, that metal arts students, faculty and alumni gather amid roaming chickens and wide-open pastures to practice their craft.
And, in a larger scope, they are unified with iron artists of the past who have perfected the practice through the millennia. At one time, taming and shaping iron was as big of a cultural game changer as the bow and arrow, the repeating rifle, the automobile and the Internet. Having successfully endured, artists of the contemporary cast-iron community have revised commercial processes from the Industrial Revolution to produce high-end art.
Carolyn Ottmers, the SAIC foundry supervisor, organized the first Lake Bluff iron pour in 1990. To celebrate the tradition, she is currently teaching an iron class to get students prepared for Fe20. Additionally, she has invited two internationally known metal artists, Hans Wolfe and George Beasley, to create site-specific projects that demonstrate their skills with liquid-hot iron.
Generations of people who have passed through the foundry at SAIC will be able to meet and exchange stories of their experiences at this year’s pour. Ottmers said she’s excited to reconnect with past students: “It’s more than an iron pour, it’s a reunion.”