Artist Barbi Gossen in the UWGB Art Metals studio holding a piece of an alumni award

Exceptionally special Alumni Awards

For the past few months, inside UW-Green Bay’s Studio Arts Lab 112, jewelry artist Barbi Gossen has feverishly sketched, etched, sanded and soldered her intricate creations to the end result — the 2015 Alumni Awards.

In celebration of UW-Green Bay’s 50th Anniversary year, the Alumni Association commissioned Gossen, a 2003 UW-Green Bay graduate and award winning jewelry artist, to handcraft the beautiful works of art in time for the Oct. 16 awards ceremony.

Gossen was recognized at the annual event, along with the award recipients: Mark King, class of 1981, Barbara Nick ’83 and Jack Potts ’71, each receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award, and Andy Rosendahl, ’07 and Kelly Ruh ’01receiving the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. Ronald and Suzy Pfeifer were presented with an Honorary Alumni Award.

Gossen says she was honored to be the selected artist for this project.

“I am really proud of these sculptures, and proud to shoulder the reputation of our tremendous art program we have at UWGB,” she said. “To be able to provide a small hand-made sculpture that these distinguished honorees are proud to display and care for is an honor.”

The Outstanding Recent Alumni Award was designed to show the rebirth of the Phoenix. Gossen explains in her artist statement: ”As each new generation goes forth, they go out into the world with the education, experience, and ideas that are unique to UWGB. As the flame rises from the swirled wings (symbolic of a nest), we rise from the safe haven of our professors, mentors, and friends. We grow to meet challenges that arise in our lives and the community around us. This award symbolizes new alumni drawing on their experiences to be reborn in the world and make a positive impact.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award symbolizes the greatness of UWGB’s more experienced alumni. “I wanted the complexity of shape and height to represent greatness and the exalted status of this award’s recipients. This award took far more time to sculpt and plan than the others in this series. Mastery of materials and complexity of technique, to me, are metaphors for the recipients of this award. Only after time, effort, and continued learning have these recipients grown to show there true potential,” she said.

The Honorary Alumni Award was designed to change with every perspective. “The front view shows all various pieces in a line revealing the wing as a whole with the school’s 50th logo as a centerpiece. This symbolizes all the things that must come together just right to make our university great. We need the support of the community around us and recognize those who’s support and commitment to our community and university make us complete.”

Gossen started with research about the idea of a Phoenix and what it has represented through time. She followed with hundreds of sketches until she had a “contender piece” which would be put through “training” — redrawing and redeveloping ideas into a refined design. Each was made more to scale and colored before being submitted for approval from colleagues, and finally for approval through the UWGB Alumni Association.

The tedious construction began with each piece copied or traced from the original. Some parts were easy and others required sawing for hours on end. Each was then carefully filed and sanded, before being cleaned and prepared for etching — a less than perfect process which requires many touch-ups by hand before pounding and shaping, soldering and finishing touches.

“I am really proud of these,” Gossen said. “I think by showing the process, and what really goes into the art, the pieces will be more valued. As an artist, you question your work constantly. There is high anxiety because you put so much of yourself into this…”

More about artist Barbara (Barbi) Gossen

An award-winning jewelry artist, Gossen is also an adjunct professor at her alma mater and has also taught Kent State where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree, as well as the Cleveland Institute of Art, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and the Peninsula Art School. She has shown across the country in various Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) shows, enamelist society shows and multiple times at Japan’s International Cloisonné Jewelry Contest. She earned “the award for encouragement” from the 20th International Cloisonné Jewelry Contest, an “emerging artist award” from the Peninsula Art School, and was a student finalist for the 2008 NICHE award. Her work has been published in books including 500 Earrings, and 500 Enameled Objects.

Enjoy the photo gallery featuring Gossen’s work in progress.

Photos by UWGB Marketing and University Communication staff member Kimberly Vlies.

(Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.)