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Award crown jewel for art professor

Tom Muir, distinguished professor of the arts, has been a winner in his field for years, and on May 3 he won an award commemorating his lifetime of achievements and contributions to students: the Ohio Designer Craftsmen Outstanding Achievement Award.

Muir, who became a faculty member in 1991 and heads the jewelry and metalsmithing area in the School of Art, received the award at the Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus. The presentation was part of the opening reception of ‘The Best of 2009’ national competition.

Muir said he first heard of the Ohio Designer Craftsmen and the organization’s ‘Best of’ competitions in 1983, when he was in graduate school at Indiana University. He said he remembers thinking, ‘Boy, I hope one day I’m good enough to be in that show.’

And he was. This year’s competition marks Muir’s 18th year of participation in the ‘Best of’ shows, in which he has won several awards, including the Excellence in Metals Award in the 2006 competition.

Muir was pleased to win the Outstanding Achievement Award.

‘It was a big honor,’ he said. ‘There are some really outstanding craft artists who live in Ohio, and a lot of the people I’ve admired for years and years ‘hellip; to be selected for something like that is really a big honor for me.’

Muir’s additional honors include permanent collections in prestigious places, such as the White House Collection of American Crafts, the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian. He has many awards to his name and has been written about in various publications.

Many of Muir’s students have been successful, too.

‘A lot of my students have had noteworthy accomplishments, and that’s part of how [the judges for the Outstanding Achievement Award] made the selection, too,’ Muir said. ‘The most enjoyable, rewarding part of teaching for me is to see my students do well.’

Chelsey Radabaugh, one of Muir’s former students who graduated in 2006 from the jewelry and metals program, won the Emerging Artist Award in the ‘Best of 2009’ show. She said she studied with Muir for four years at the University, and he inspired her to become a teacher.

‘I’d say he was a big reason why I decided to go to grad school and also why I decided to go into education,’ said Radabaugh,’ who is now an associate instructor at Indiana University. ‘He made me want to learn all I could about metalsmithing.’

In addition to Radabaugh, three other former students of Muir’s participated in the ‘Best of 2009’ competition: Pamela Morris Thomford of Perrysburg, and Marissa Saneholtz and Andrew Kuebeck of Bowling Green.

Kuebeck, who graduated from the University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in 3-D art and a specialization in jewelry and metalsmithing, said he first met Muir as a senior at Bowling Green Senior High, when his art teacher invited Muir to critique the class’ artwork.

‘I was amazed by the insights he had, and the knowledge he was willing to share with such a novice,’ Kuebeck said in an e-mail. ‘It was then that I decided that when I went to BGSU, I was going to study metals.’

‘ Kuebeck just finished his first year of graduate school at Indiana University, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in jewelry design and metalsmithing. He will be teaching beginning jewelry design and metalsmithing as an associate instructor in the fall.

‘My grad school experience has been made so much easier because of all that Tom has taught me,’ said Kuebeck. ‘He has been an amazing mentor, and I look forward to every time I come back to BG so I can see him and show him what I’m up to.’

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