Featured Artist: Megan McGaffigan
I’m very excited to introduce our featured artist and jewelry maker, Megan McGaffigan. Megan and I met a few years ago when she moved to Vancouver. She was working as a printmaker for Montana artist John Buck at that time and we had an instant connection through our shared art process.
I’ve watched Megan evolve from printmaker to jewelry maker over the past few years and enjoy seeing the passion she has for her craft.
Megan has a menagerie of adorable spotted animals including a donkey named Alfie and a new great dane puppy.
Megan McGaffigan is a contemporary jeweler with a multifaceted creative practice. She received her MFA in Jewelry/Metal Arts at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and her BFA in Metalsmithing from Montana State University. Her one of a kind work has been exhibited nationally at galleries such as Velvet Da Vinci (San Francisco, CA), Pittsburg Society for Contemporary Craft (Pittsburg, PA), and Shibumi Gallery (Berkeley, CA). McGaffigan’s work is included in public collections including the Racine Art Museum (Racine, WI), several private collections, and represented by Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery (Seattle, WA). She currently lives in Vancouver, Washington.
She is self described as an artist, metalsmith, and jeweler who operates a custom jewelry business out of her home studio. She also cross-pollinates with other workspaces and jewelers in Portland, Oregon’s Willamette Building in the city’s little known micro diamond district. Every single piece Megan makes is handmade using traditional jewelry making techniques, no cad, and no computers. This allows for better quality control and intention with her precious materials as well as guaranteeing that every piece is one of a kind. She sources exceptional ethical diamonds, fair trade stones, and recycled metals to create her custom fine jewelry and talks about her time with clients as a collaborative dance where possibilities are endless and anything can be made. She likes to involve her clients in as much as possible in the making of their jewelry, inviting them to sketch, watch, and even cast their jewelry alongside her. She finds this really resonates with clients who she is making bridal jewelry with or redesigning family heirlooms. The personal experience allows for an even more intimate experience with the jewelry, removing the sterility of picking something already made, by a machine, from behind a glass case, where many pieces look the same.
Megan’s most personal work is described as “art jewelry” which can be explained as wearable objects often in a traditional jewelry format (a necklace, brooch, earrings, etc.) but that are challenged by alternative materials and narrative messaging. She finds great interest in tradition, sentiment, and longing, and it is through the melding of the antiquated method of tintype photography and traditional jewelry making techniques that she creates objects of adornment that reflect intimate awareness of these human experiences. Shifts in her work are markered by her heavy-hearted relocation from Montana to the Pacific Northwest and the devastation of her family’s home in the 2017 California wild fires. Creating intimate objects that attribute sentiment to things, place, or time that no longer exist. She is drawn to the idea of an unexceptional material being laced with something precious. Tintype photographs, being historically common and affordable set into precious materials that become objects of adornment are the result. Materials, like memories and sentiment, are an ordinary part of the human condition yet uniquely of value to the individual wearer.