Joanne Guthrie

Forging a New Art

 

Where it all started…

 

I first took an interest in welding while taking a high school art class. It was the class I looked forward to most and even then I knew my passion for creative expression was taking hold. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about various media and I originally felt that oil painting would be my preferred method of choice. That was, of course, until my teacher gave the class complete creative freedom for our final art project.

This is when I first discovered metal art sculptures.

I went to my school’s mechanic shop and borrowed some wire and other materials, which I fashioned into a sculpture of a spider. Instantly, I knew I had stumbled upon something special. There was something so satisfying about taking one of the Earth’s strongest and most unyielding materials and turning it into an imaginative work of art.

Soon, I began to wonder what I could create if I were able to further manipulate and reshape metal using a fabrication process like welding. The possibilities seemed endless.

I was nearing the end of my senior year, and the pressure was on to decide what I would do or study in the years ahead. Art school was a major consideration, but the thought of doing several more years of school while acquiring debt was deterring me from that path. So, I thought, why not apply for an apprenticeship where I could get paid to hone my welding skills?

It was the right choice for me. The more I learned, the more I fell in love with the welding process and the more eager I became to start creating welded metal art.

Joanne Guthrie

Where I Am Now

 

It took 20 years of working in the industrial field before I was finally able to commit to full-time creative metal artwork. Just being able to wake up each day and give my full, undivided attention to my art is an accomplishment I’ll never stop celebrating.

So, what matters most to me at this point? 

Exploring new and inventive ways to use my skills when producing art. 

More specifically, I recently began melting scrap metal in my forge to create custom cast metal pieces, which I can incorporate into my artwork. And I continue to experiment with different types of metals and other materials to see how they can be transformed.

For me, the best part of being an Edmonton metal artist is knowing there are infinite opportunities. Each piece of art I produce is the result of a long series of choices, which change and alternate from situation to situation. 

Ultimately, my final products are often as surprising to me as they are to those who view or purchase them— and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

As the great Leonardo Di Vinci once said, “The artist has the universe in his mind and hands”. I’m just looking forward to seeing where that universe takes me.

The Future of Sustainable Welded Art

 

Sustainability in art is a growing movement of which I am proud to be a part. More and more artists are using their craft to start a conversation about the importance of eco-friendly practices, either through the themes of their art or through the materials and mediums they use to create it.

I believe art truly does have the power to impact change.

I think about the Japanese art of Kintsugi Pottery, which is focused on the practice of taking broken items and repairing them with gold to make them even more beautiful. How many shattered dishes have been spared from landfills by this single art form alone?

Then there’s the recent emergence of living walls and preserved moss art, like this well-known piece that can be found at the Edmonton International Airport. Or the growing popularity of upcycled art, including the works of Jaynie Crimmins, a New York City artist who turns catalogues, junk mail, and other paperwork into detailed, intricate works of art.

These are just a few examples of the shift to sustainability within the art world, and I believe welded metal art is an integral part of this shift.

Why? Because recycling metal is highly impactful in terms of environmental benefit. Here are some interesting statistics related to metal recycling:

  • Every ton of steel recycled saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone. (Source)
  • Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a 100-watt light bulb for almost 20 hours or a computer for 3 hours. (Source)
  • The steel recycled in Canada each year saves enough energy to power 2.7 million households. (Source)
  • Using scrap metal in lieu of virgin ore generates 97 per cent less mining waste and uses 40 per cent less water. (Source)
  • More than one million tons of aluminum containers and packaging (soda cans, TV dinner trays, aluminum foil) are thrown away in Canada each year. (Source)

With figures like these in mind, it’s obvious that metal art sculptures and other forms of welded metal art can be used to create significant and lasting environmental change.

It is my hope that others will be inspired by not just my creative works, but the works of all artists who are using their craft to speak about the importance of sustainability. By encouraging others to seek out sustainable practices in their own lives, we can elevate the cause and contribute to a greener, brighter future for all.

Are You Ready to Add a Piece of Welded Metal or Mixed Media Art to Your Collection?

You Can Also Inquire About My Custom Art Commissions

I’m happy to create a one-of-a-kind, distinctive piece based on your unique preferences. Whether you’re looking for an Alberta-based artist to produce a public art installment for your community, or you’re simply an avid art collector with a specific vision in mind, I would be thrilled to create the perfect piece of welded art or mixed media art for your space.