From Classroom to Collections: A Conversation with Andrew Kuebeck

Jewelry, Metals and Enameling area head Andrew Kuebeck recently had pieces from his series "In Profile" acquired by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art. To learn more about Kuebeck’s process and work, we sat down for an interview with the School of Art professor.

Q: Your work often incorporates photographs into jewelry pieces, vessels, and enamel. What initially inspired you to explore those mediums together?

A: I’ve always been interested in the history of the figure in art and the various ways that the body is “read” by our society. Photography was a key concurrent interest of mine while I was in undergraduate study and I really was interested in trying to find the most technically accurate ways of incorporating the body into my work. My earlier work used photo etching processes, which provided some detail, but limited the precision I was looking for in my work. I briefly used liquid photo emulsion on enamel plates, which produced an incredibly faithful image, but was technically difficult and required a considerable amount of trail and error. During grad school I switched to using enamel decals on my work, which blended my enamel interests, my jewelry interests and my photography interests. I’ve been making work technically similar since. It is important that I shoot my own images, which allows me to have control over the models I hire as well as the poses and props used during the shoot. My work is heavily inspired by the 1950/1960’s genre of beefcake photography, and the politics and laws used during this time to repress male nude imagery. I would like to think that my work explores the beauty of the male nude while also attempting to normalize a highly polarizing genre into our society.

Q: You teach at Kent State in the Jewelry/Metals/Enameling program. How does your teaching practice inform your work and vice-versa?

A: I love teaching because of the boundless energy and creativity that I am surround by each day from my students. Each semester a new group of students bring their interests to class and we work together to visualize their thoughts into tangible form. While my studio practice isn’t informed by my students directly, their energy and desire to continue to push against societal norms in their work helps motivate me to continue my own work.

artwork of man on enameled pin
"Anthony In Profile," enamel, silver, by Andrew Kuebeck, 2021, 

Q: Your works “Joey In Profile” and "Anthony In Profile" were recently acquired by esteemed museums. What do these pieces mean to you, and what was the process like getting the work picked up by a museum? 

A: I am beyond thrilled that my work “Joey in Profile” and “Anthony in Profile” have been recently acquired by museums. “Joey…” was acquired by the Rhode Island School of Design museum, and “Anthony…” was acquired by The Cleveland Museum of Art. It has always been a dream of mine to have my work collected and I had hoped that one day my work would end up in a museum. Both of these works are from a larger jewelry series, “In Profile”. Work in this series are made from multiple enamel decal plates that are set like stones into geometric sterling silver compositions. The imagery are each from the named model, and I hope display a calm tranquility of the beauty of the male body outside of the rigid mores of our society.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have a strong collector base who have been incredibly supportive of my works. My work is incredibly distinct in the field of jewelry making, which I think has always helped with my visibility and acquisitions. Both “Joey in Profile” and “Anthony in Profile” were initially purchased by The Enamel Arts Foundation, and were subsequently donated to these collections. I am indebted to The Enamel Arts Foundation for their support, advocacy and their gift. I am thrilled that my work resonates with the jewelry community as a whole, and I am humbled by their interest and acceptance of my style.

Q: What advice do you have for students looking to exhibit their work?

A: The advice that I give all of my students is to continue to make work that you care about and can passionately talk about. I firmly believe that the more you can express your own unique beliefs and interests in your work the more others will enjoy it. Many of my students are afraid that the outside world won’t understand or accept the views that they are trying to express in their work, but I feel the need to remind them, that in this incredibly vast world there are many, many others out there that share your beliefs who are yearning to see them made tangible through art.


About the Jewelry, Metals and Enameling Program at Kent State

The Jewelry/Metals/Enameling program provides a forward-thinking artistic education rooted in distinguished traditions. The program’s fully equipped James (Mel) Someroski Studios in the Center for the Visual Arts support a wide variety of technical processes, complementing student exploration of historical and contemporary concepts.

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POSTED: Tuesday, December 5, 2023 10:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 6, 2023 04:19 PM