Gary Lee Noffke grew up in a small town in Central Illinois in the 1940’s and 50’s. He developed a keen love for the outdoors and spent many weekends on his grandfather’s farm where he learned to garden and forage for food, especially edible mushrooms, a skill he learned from his parents. As an adult, his love for gathering and preparing food became manifest in his life and art. His approach to unique handmade vessels, jewelry and other utensils are still influenced by the experiences of his youth.
He is, without a doubt, one of the most revolutionary metalsmiths working today. In 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of North American Goldsmith's and he is also a Fellow of the American Craft Council. In 1988 he was honored as Master Metalsmith at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
His awards are numerous, and his exhibitions and lectures are equally impressive. In 2011, the Mint Museum of Craft and Design in Charlotte, North Carolina hosted a major retrospective of his work entitled, Attitude and Alchemy: The Metalwork of Gary Lee Noffke. The exhibition featured over 120 pieces of work that showcased his intense vocabulary of skills in multiple aspects of metalwork. Metal is his mistress; they get in a lot of fights and the results are fascinating!
Gary received his Master of Fine Arts in 1969 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. There he worked with Brent Kington, a master in his own right who helped Gary find that ‘Noffke voice’ in metal.
After graduation, Gary eventually settled into a thirty-year teaching career at the University of Georgia in Athens. He is not only a master metalsmith, but a dedicated teacher who has passed his knowledge onto hundreds of students. Throughout his career he also presented hundreds of workshops and lectures. Although he has retired from academia, he still loves to share his knowledge with others.
Gary’s exhibitions are numerous, as he has shown throughout the United States and the world. To see a more complete list of exhibitions please view his recent resume.
Gary is still very active in his studio and he lives and works in rural Georgia with various critters and a community of interesting friends!
Gary Noffke (Wikipedia)
Something is wrong when art needs to be explained