WSIU InFocus Segment Archives
Produced by WSIU-TV senior producer David Kidd, this half-hour special examines the artistic legacy of the late L. Brent Kington, the father of modern-day blacksmithing and a renowned metalsmith whose life and work propelled him to national prominence. A major contributor to the American Studio Crafts Movement, he was named one of only forty five people in the United States to receive the American Craft Council's Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed to individual artists.
Born and raised in Kansas, Kington created all of his major works while living in southern Illinois and founded the only graduate program in blacksmithing in the country at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where he taught from 1961-1997. Kington also served as Director of the SIU School of Art and Design from 1961-1996.
In an interview taped in 2008, Kington reveals the genius behind his art as he leads Debra Tayes, curator for the Southern Illinois Art Gallery Artisan Museum, on a personal tour of one of his exhibits. He shares details about the challenges he overcame in his early life, the evolution of his baroque-style art, specific techniques he developed over the years, and the ability of ideas to transcend the very medium he used to create his innovative designs.
Kington highlights some of the transitional pieces in the exhibit, such as his giant air machine, which combines castings with forged iron, and his Icarus series, bird-like creatures delicately balanced on a fulcrum. He explains how he sees and uses the plasticity in iron to create unique pieces that suggest motion. For example, some of his kinetic art started out as weather vanes, but evolved into more sensitive works that move subtly in the wind or when a slight touch sets them in motion.
In 2000, Kington was named as one of the most prominent 100 artists and key figures in American craft for the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project, administered by the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution.
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