Gabriel Craig & Amy Weiks: Kin
November 25, 2016 - February 19, 2017
For their new exhibition at form & concept, artists Gabriel Craig and Amy Weiks revved up their time machine. Kin was a chance for the artists, who co-founded a nationally renowned metal fabrication studio in Detroit, to delve into the human history of objects and tools—and explore their own past in the process.
“We’ve been metalsmiths for 13 years, and we’ve been working together for quite a while,” says Craig. The duo met in 2007 at Western Michigan University, when they were undergraduate art students. They completed a collaborative artist residency in 2009, and founded the dynamic, craft-centric metalworking studio Smith Shop in 2012. Since then, they’ve mostly worked together on commercial metalwork projects and workshops. “It’s been a while, so we wanted to have an exhibition that would serve as a catalyst to revisit the things that we touched on in our earlier collaborations, and also to start exploring new things,” Craig says.
The duo has a unique method of working together. They create small objects using different materials, and lay them out on sheets of paper, composing sculptural collages that intermingle with sketches and notes. This helps them synthesize their diverse interests and work towards a unified aesthetic. Eventually, they fuse the pieces together into elegant, wearable sculptures. “It’s like if you played exquisite corpse with one other person every day for a decade,” says Craig. “We’ve really narrowed down our core interests now, and we’re setting out new challenges for ourselves.”
Craig and Weiks worked exclusively with forged steel and fabricated bronze for the Kin exhibition, with Craig focusing on intricate surface ornamentation and Weiks exploring historic forms with a contemporary eye. “We’re trying to achieve the essence of artifacts in museums,” says Weiks. “There was this idea that these objects came from somewhere deep in our past.” Their previous collaborations have been multilayered, mixed media works, but creating Kin helped them reduce and simplify. The result is striking forms that can be worn, but could just as easily appear on a pedestal in a museum.
Craig and Weiks have also used found objects in their work, manipulating coins, chains and other materials to create striking, contemporary forms. They experiment with similar contrasts in their body of work for Kin. “We’ve created all these pairings,” says Weiks. “We have form and pattern, and we have bronze and steel, and we have engraving and chafing. There are all these elements that come together in surprising ways.”