Art Contest Submission
by David Fessenden
The traditional Silversmith has practiced recycling since the art’s inception. Patrons typically brought their old flatware, vessels and coins to the town silversmith be melted down and hammered into new more fashionable pieces. This aspect of Steve’s work was recently documented by the Discovery Channel when they included a segment on his work for their “Green Planet” channel with begins airing in June 2008 ,taped in Ashfield at the last week of May.
I met Steve when writing a newspaper story about the chandeliers he made for Sanderson Academy and for the Ashfield Town Hall. I was struck by Steve’s almost evangelical commitment to rediscovering and preserving the lost techniques of hand wrought silver, copper and brass. Together committed toward filming a detailed video diary documenting the evolution of Steve’s commissions along with workshops hosted by The Paul Revere House in Boston and Historic Deerfield. We call the gave the project the working title “Painting With A Hammer” Some of our footage can be viewed on Google video. A link is also on Steve Smithers web site http://stevesmithers.com/
We were making record time on or project, but we have no idea where we are headed. Steve and I approached WGBH, Museums and commercial cable outlets and came to the conclusion that in every case we would have to compromise our mission in one way or another in order to fit their programming needs.
- Concept description: A twenty minute film on Steve Smithers and his work. Possibly with narration and defiantly with original music created with local talent. Subliminally embedded in our film is the supposition that American craftsmanship and locally based, entrepreneurial fabrication of goods has fallen by the wayside in our country.
- Final work will be a DVD with all intellectual property rights secured with releases.
- Concept of sustainability: The work of a traditional metalsmith, as practiced by Steve Smithers, encompasses many concepts of sustainability. Since the inception of metalworking more than 5000 years ago, metalsmiths have been recycling their material. Patrons typically brought their damaged or out of fashion vessels, utensils, and coins to be melted down and fashioned into new objects of function and beauty. Steve works with his son to create new objects as well as repairing and conserving antique metal pieces. They use the classic hand tools of the ancient art, which require human energy, as opposed to the energy intensive process of mass production by machines. Their work is typical of, and well represents the many small art and craft studios throughout the Pioneer Valley The work produced in these shops is carefully and well made, destined to be passed down as heirlooms, as opposed to poorly made products which eventually find their way to the landfill. Steve’s small shop is made of native and local lumber. He teaches and demonstrates his art in museums, schools, and other locations, helping to foster interest and enthusiasm for this earth friendly movement among the next generation.
- Materials to be used: Existing footage, music yet be purchased, possibly narration and the editorial talents of Harry Keramidas. Harry is a retired to Ashfield three years ago after a career as a feature film editor. Harry and I have since collaborated on only what we consider worthwhile film projects such as our 90 minute concert documentary on Village Harmony and an in progress project for John Bos on the creation of a local hospice choir here in Franklin County.
- Our project can be completed within the award amount because most of the footage is shot, we own the equipment and have the technical experience to finish our film.
- The film would be available for screening, without charge and distributed for a nominal charge. Copies would be offered to local libraries and schools free of charge, as I have done with all my locally produced films.
- Specifications: A twenty minute film, possibly longer.
I have a BA degree from Ohio University (Communications Radio/TV) and two years post graduate study toward a MFA in film. After college I worked as a cameraman in Los Angeles, until 1989 when I left the commercial film industry in order to peruse interests in woodworking arts and crafts. In 2001 I came back Ashfield, MA to be with family and build a homestead.. The films I make today are projects worthwhile and mostly documentary in nature. Most of the profits gleaned from video production go toward camera gear and editing hardware.
My five minute short called “The Three Seasons of Winter” took first place at the First Annual Ashfield Film Festival last year. Ongoing and completed video projects this summer include a yet untitled documentary for John Bos’ Rural Renaissance about the formation of a hospice choir group in Franklin County. Recently completed is a 90 minute concert video on Village Harmony’s leaders concert here in Ashfield. Earlier this spring I recently shot a documentary video portrait of Sonya Kitchell which is now in post production.