"I like challenging perceptions of an object, or how we create hierarchies of format,” says metalsmith Bryan Petersen. Art is constantly in flux—different mediums fall in and out of favor, dropping and adding qualifiers like “wearable” or “sculptural.” While earrings, necklaces, and brooches have ascended to artwork status, the belt buckle has been largely overlooked.
In response, Petersen founded the World Champion Belt Buckle Competition. Since its inception in 2012, the competition has sought to upend outdated stereotypes. Utilizing the belt buckle as canvas, artists crafted compelling visual structures that commented on an array of themes: gender, mortality, politics, technology, and much more.
Buckle Expo: Selections from the 2019 World Championship Belt Buckle Competition shatters expectations of contemporary craft, utilizing non-traditional materials such as 3-D printing, leather, poker chips, manta teeth, vintage dollhouse tins, auto body paint, and coral. “It’s a fun play on what the buckle can be,” Petersen says. “But it also asks, ‘What is contemporary craft?’ And I believe it’s taking advantage of all these diverse mediums.”