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Rising Stars: Meet Megan Clark

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Clark. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I discovered metals as a medium at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I initially enrolled to study fashion, but took a beginning metal and jewelry course as an elective and got hooked. I enjoy the challenge of precision and the properties of the material. 

The following is my artist statement, which explains that better. 

There is magic to fine craft. Its conception doesn’t appear as though forced, but simply, it became. A well-executed piece of art has the mystery of birth. 

I began to work with metals in college and enjoyed making jewelry because of its intimate scale and its relationship to the wearer. It is important to me that for centuries jewelry has been used not just for adornment, it has been used to encourage, congratulate and remind. It is a way for people to connect. 

I hand fabricate my work because I enjoy being in contact with the materials. I believe that there is a duality to metal that is quite human: it is hard yet can be formed, it can be malleable yet brittle, it can be cruel yet forgiving. I bring these qualities to my work by contrasting strong shapes with delicate textures and patterns made primarily from 18K gold and sterling silver. 

When I am dedicated to a piece, the world stops and I am present. My process is a moving meditation. My hope is that this will extend out to the wearer for generations to come. 

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for some amazing people after I graduated in 2005, and it allowed me to hone the skills I learned in college. It also gave me a better perspective of the choices and directions that are possible in my field in regard to business. I started my business out of necessity. When the recession happened in 2008-2009, bench jewelry jobs were hard to find, and I got pushed out of the nest in a way. It was hard and scary, but I am so glad that I didn’t have a choice but to gamble on myself. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There have been plenty of bumps in the road, but I think the one thing that the pandemic has shone a light on for all of us is that nothing is certain. It was terrifying to take the plunge into self-employment. There was never a guarantee that my efforts would be financially compensated for. That is still true now, but I have been in it long enough to adapt and learn from pitfalls more efficiently. 

When I started my business, I was working three part-time jobs, and sleeping on a couch. In some ways that allowed me to have the confidence to try, because I didn’t feel like I had anything left to lose. I have made plenty of mistakes and taken risks that don’t work out. The advice I’d give anyone from my experience is to be pragmatic in your risks. Don’t gamble what you can’t afford to lose. The other thing that has been beneficial, I think especially after a year sidelined from events, is that I have always invested as much as possible back into my business. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a jeweler that specializes in precious metal fabrication. Jewelry is a very broad field, and there are many ways to go about crafting it. I enjoy working with metal directly. I am in direct contact with the piece from start to finish, and appreciate the control that that allows. 

The line of work that most would describe as a signature style of mine began 12+ years ago. I was fascinated with the texture and mysterious elegance of stingray leather and began experimenting with it. It has been used in design for centuries, predominantly for embellishing objects and furniture. I wanted to retain its mystery, and I also wanted to emphasize its preciousness. For these pieces, I make hollow forms, (essentially a box constructed out of silver in sheet form), and use resin to inlay the leather. 

In the last few years, I have slowly moved away from Stingray leather as a material. In part, because it is overfished, and I don’t feel comfortable adding to that strain. The leather I use is remnant material that I purchase from a small leather business that makes handbags, but I feel responsible for my impact regardless. I have a good amount of material left to work with, but have committed to not purchasing more. It is in safekeeping for an epic idea or commission at this point. 

The other more personal reason that I have moved away from that material was the need for challenge and growth. I have been exploring texture and contrast through the metal directly, and I’m really excited about the direction that it is going in. I started making my own bi-metal (18K sheet fused to a silver sheet) and using a jeweler’s saw to create linear patterns in the pieces. 

My inspirations behind both lines are consistent. I run and spend a lot of time outside. Nature is the obvious Muse for most artists! I enjoy looking at the structure and graphic quality of architecture for inspiration as well. My biggest inspiration may be history though. I was required to take a certain number of art history courses in college and found a deep love for antiquities through that process. I am especially drawn to Egyptian Art and the Art Deco era that was inspired so much by it. 

I am most proud when I have to problem-solve a new design and I achieve what my intention was. 

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
Introverted but outgoing. And very independent. I always loved art, but as a child spent more time with paper and pencils than working in 3D. I still drool over a new box of Prismacolor pencils! 


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Image Credits
Cole Rodger

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