“Richard Sally – Maker of Wearable Art”
Richard Salley began working with metal in 1969 as an assistant to the metal sculptor, Malcom Moran, in Carmel, California. As an assistant Salley learned the very basics of handling metal creating a strong foundation of fundamentals for him to build from in his art practice. Working as an assistant did not last too long. To support himself and his family, Salley quit being an assistant and went back to school to earn his Linguistics Degree from the University of California and his credentials to teach elementary school.
For 32 years, Salley taught in the California Public School System. During that time, in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to work with metal and hone his craft. The early 2000s, Salley left teaching in public schools and focused his time on his art and to teach workshops throughout the country. In 2002, he took a workshop taught by Keith LoBue, “found object jewelry guru,” who had a great influence on Salley’s work and the conceptual direction his art will go. Salley expresses how invaluable learning from experts can be in developing one’s own craft. Self-exploration and learning through mistakes is certainly essential, though taking workshops and studying under great artists, such as Susan Kazmer and Robert Dancick, have expedited his learning process by years.
Salley does not consider himself to be a jeweler but rather a “maker of wearable art.” This is immediately evident when looking at his art. Oe can see the influence from Keith LoBue when put side-to-side, and elements of the Wild West and Californian culture. Looking at Salley’s “Riding The Range” neckpiece in Figure 1. you can see the use of found objects and metals that are clearly present in Keith LoBue’s work (see Figure 2.). Both pieces stray from conventional jewelry expectations. The use of recycled materials takes away the cold, crisp essence of traditional jewelry. Salley’s use of the found toy cowboy riding a horse and the coni-calcite specimen adds a breath of life and motion to this piece. The calcium and rust build-ups indicate a state of growth. A state of transition, as one thing decays another comes to life. This symbiosis only puts more emphasis on the theme of repurposing found materials to create art.
Though this is only one representation of Salley’s craft. He is no stranger to creating beautiful crisp jewelry, typically encompassing a gorgeous stone. Learn from Richard Salley and gain invaluable insight and guidance for your craft at one of his upcoming workshops at the Carpenter Art Enamel Foundation.