Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Blair Anderson, Metal Artist, Tells Her Story

I love metal. I love the feel of it, the smell of it, and I love playing with fire. Let’s face it there is a little pyro in all of us… or at least that is what I tell my students. I started in my 20’s while getting my fine art degree back in college. Totally obsessed with what the metal does, how it forms and how you can make it be expressive, I recognized early on that my particular “wearable art” would take on a story telling nature. Now in my 50’s I still can’t escape that tendency of telling stories with my work.

The Source

My primary focus now is in the development of other artists through my studios, SilverWorks and SilverWorks Studio 2: Hot Metal in Glen Echo MD. I am lucky to have landed a permanent artist residency at the historical Glen Echo Park, a truly unique community of artists nestled in a national park. It is there where I spend most of my time teaching and developing classes in the metal arts. Having run the gamut of doing juried shows all over the country as well as having over thirty galleries represent my work, I now have the luxury of choosing to create a single themed one-of-a-kind collection each year and then spend the rest of my time igniting the fire in others.

More Out of Life

My husband Bryan calls me a drug dealer for a reason. My true joy is getting people addicted to the art form.


But it wasn’t always the case. Doing the juried shows seemed sexy at first. There is a great rush when you get in, and when galleries take on your work, but I think the nature and personality of an artist struggles to find a balance of life and work and also that sweet spot where your work unfolds unhindered. About 17 years into my journey I found that I had begun to do more mass production than one-of-a-kind. It’s what my husband later dubbed the “twenty dollar earring syndrome”. Catering to the masses for the sake of a living watered down the true work I was doing in the beginning. That and a really bad deal with an unscrupulous gallery turned the creative faucet off.


So I quit. I went on to do other art forms and started an online visual arts gallery with some digital work. It flourished.


Then the market crashed. But I think most artists are a resourceful lot and in an act of desperation due to some mounting debt I decided to go back to my first love.

SilverWorks was born. In November 2009 I opened the tiny little studio hoping against hope that I could attract enough students to make a go of it as well as go back to doing my one-of-a-kind work without compromising the art. I had my first solo show after coming back to the art form, the creative juices were flowing again! Since that opening I have had a show each year that focuses the work on a theme that ultimately teases out more stories while continuing to expand the work. The organic nature of the growth of my little studio from a few beginning classes to what it is today has also enabled me to look forward to another big horizon type dream project that my husband and I began a few years ago, again with the focus of empowering other artists. It is an artist retreat and residency program called Exnihilo.


This is Week 13 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Blair’s story today. To contact Blair and see more of her work, please email her at blair@silverworksglenechopark.com.