Art professor honored for metals talent

With art in more than 300 shows, 26 awards in the United States and abroad – eight of which won best of show – it seems only fitting that Tom Muir was crowned a “distinguished professor of arts” at the University yesterday.

With only the second and final presentation by the art department for naming the “distinguished” in 2005-2006, Muir was chosen to present his work yesterday to peers at the University and art fans in the community in 206 Union.

Muir was chosen for his research and creativity abilities, and also so he could share his work with other artists, according to the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Donald Nieman.

Sara Mock, senior, said she was there not only because Muir was her art professor, but also to see a larger collection of his work.

“Because I had him as a teacher, I got to see some of his work, but this was an opportunity to get a better look at his pieces,” She said.

Muir was attending Georgia State University in 1978 when he was first influenced by his peers’ work in metal.

“I was walking down a hall and saw this great work and I thought it looked interesting, so I gave it a try,” Muir said. He was in his early twenties when he began on his path to a historical figure as an artist.

Muir chose to work with metal because he saw it as more of a challenge than other art forms, such as painting.

“If I could do this [metalworks], then I could do anything,” he said.

It takes about 15 years for Muir to completely finish one of his collections, but it’s different during the school year.

While teaching classes at BGSU, Muir doesn’t get as much time to work on his own designs. He noted that his rhythm of work is different during the school year than it is during the summer.

“If you don’t get eight to 12 hours of work in, in a day, then it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment, during the school year this is hard to do,” Muir said.

His work was on the cover of Metalsmith magazine first in 1988, during a time when many though he was too young for this privilege. Since then, Muir’s art has been purchased by The Art Institute of Chicago, The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian, located in Washington D.C.

In 1993, Muir’s work was chosen to be included in the White House collection of holiday crafts exhibit. His work has also been published in many books and journals, from America to Australia.

In 2004, he presented a “ceremonial medallion” to BGSU’s President Sidney Ribeau. Weighing 453 grams, it took Muir 100 hours to create, and replaced the one created in 1964 by former BGSU professor Carl D. Hall. The medallion depicts a “tree of knowledge,” and symbolizes the University’s growth.

Muir has been working with metal for more than 20 years now, but admits it would be fun to work with a different medium of art if there was enough time.

“Glass work, ceramics, wood work such as furniture-making and even photography all interest me, but I’m not done working with the metal yet,” he said.