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 Paul W Leathers  (21st century)

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Lived/Active: Alberta/Manitoba / Canada      Known for: Jewelry making, metal sculpture-decorative objects

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Paul W. Leathers RCA is a studio metalsmith who completed his undergraduate training at Sheridan College's School of Crafts & Design (Dip.A.A.) and the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (BFA), and his graduate studies at the University of Calgary (MFA).

Inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2006, Leathers has headed metalsmithing departments in Manitoba and British Columbia and currently maintains his studio practice in Red Deer, Alberta. 

Artist Statement

"I create artworks which, standing between artist and viewer, mediate personal experiences and interests in order to provide a forum within which the viewer is invited to access the marvelous. Often installation-based, these artworks—completed through the viewer’s movements within the exhibition space and the subsequent acquiring of multiple sightlines—explore the dynamic relationship that exists between viewer, viewpoint, and viewed. What interests me about my studio practice is the ability to locate a sculptural form in close proximity to the body—to place an object within the personal boundaries of the viewer and have it be adopted as a social as well as a physical extension. In the words of Australian critic Kevin Murray, "While wearable objects may be isolated from the context of their use, use value is still an important factor in the life of objects that, by enlisting the viewer’s attention, may serve the same function as art."

My early work explored the experimental use of alternate materials and addressed such formal considerations as the use of colour and texture. Subject matter evolved from the direct observation and subsequent interpretation of the natural environment (Mysteries, common everywhere, 98), scientific processes (Natural Sines series), or recovered archeological fragments (Patina Pendant).

The body of work that I am currently exploring engages the viewer through his or her attraction and subsequent relocation relative to the objects on display. This leads to a personalized interaction with the pieces, whether through direct physical contact, as in the case of jewellery, or in a more distanced manner, as with sculptural objects. In both activating and being activated by these artworks, the viewer is connected to an experience of the material world that signals a rupture with normal linear existence.

Informed by an interest in pre-Enlightenment collection and re(presentation) methods, current work often employs light and/or integrates anamorphic images, those that are legible only when viewed in an unconventional manner, to attract and locate the viewer and to engage the viewer's intellect through the activation of his or her sensory faculties.??  . . . Recent work has explored the nature of this relationship, from the viewer’s initial attraction and seduction through to the establishment of an ongoing relationship with the object. Artworks such as Secret, anyone’s, is open, if waited for long enough, 90, captivate the viewer, allowing him or her to 'play' with the work through their physical relocation relative to its components.

Works made to commission, such as, usually develop in response to criteria set forth by the client’s material and emotional needs. Such works often result in the client’s education as to the many possibilities that exist for wearable art. I also enjoy the opportunity to work collaboratively with other artists and find that the process often leads to bodies of work that extend my own sense of what is possible. I am eager to engage with new materials and processes and to integrate them into my studio practice. Quoting Aristotle, "The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.' "

Paul Wm. Leathers RCA November/2011


2001–'03 1983–'84 1981–'82 1980–'83
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
Master of Fine Arts Degree: Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta. Specialization in Sculpture.
Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Major in Jewellery, with a minor in Art History.
Colored Stones Certificate, Gemological Institute of America (GIA): Canadian Jewellers Institute, Toronto, Ontario.
Diploma of Applied Arts: School of Crafts and Design, Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology, Mississauga, Ontario. Major in Metal.

2008 2004–'08 2003
2001 1997–2000
1993 1991–'92 1988–'90
Instructor (Sessional Appointment), JWLM.315—Introductory Gemology (LS), Jewellery & Metals, Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary, AB.
Instructor, Jewellery Making: Lost Wax Casting and Gem Appreciation, ten-week evening courses, City of Red Deer Culture Services, Red Deer, AB.
Instructor (Sessional Appointment), 233.02—Art Fundamentals: Three Dimensional Design, Department of Art, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.

Instructor, Gem Appreciation, ten-week evening course, Extension Services, Red Deer College, Red Deer, AB.

Studio Head, Jewellery & Small Object Design (J&SOD), as well as, Instructor, Crafts History Survey; Instructor, Repetition & Unit Construction module, 2nd. Year Design; Instructor, Photo-documentation module, 1st/ 2nd/ 3rd Year Design, Core Studies; Instructor, Introduction to Gemmology and Lost Wax Casting, Community Courses; Coordinator, Summer Residency in Jewellery and Visiting Artist in Jewellery programmes, Centre of Craft and Design, Kootenay School of the Arts (KSA), Nelson, B.C.

Instructor, Canadian Institute of Gemmology (CIG), Introduction to Diamonds and Introduction to Coloured Gemstones at Red River Community College, Winnipeg, MB.

Instructor, Enamelling, Crafts Education Series, at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Brandon, MB.

Instructor (acting Department Head), Art Department, St. John's- Ravenscourt School, Winnipeg, MB.

Instructor (acting Department Head, 1988–'89), Jewellery Arts Department, Sturgeon Creek Regional Secondary School, St. James-Assiniboia School Division No. 2, Winnipeg, MB.

'89–'90, developed and delivered the Jewellery Arts technology education- vocational industrial (light industrial cluster) programming for Manitoba Education, Training and Youth.

Instructor, Jewellery: Gemsetting, Surface Enrichment: Colour and Texture,

Enamelling, Soldering, Jewellery: Lost Wax Casting and Advanced Lost Wax Casting, Introduction to Diamonds and Introduction to Coloured Gemstones, St. James-Assiniboia Continuing Education, Winnipeg, MB.

1986–'87 Instructor, Saturday Morning Art Classes, Winnipeg School Division No. 1, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, MB.

2011 Platinum juried membership status, Metal Arts Guild of Canada (MAGC).

2009 Canada Council: Alberta Creative Development Initiative (ACDI) Grant.

2008 Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA): Project Grant, Art Production. 2007 Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA): Project Grant, Travel/Research. 2006 Inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA).

2005/'04/'03 Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA): Project Grant, Art Production.

2003 Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund: Graduate Student Scholarship.

2002 Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA): Project Grant, Art Production. Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA): Graduate Scholarship.
U. of Calgary, Faculty of Graduate Studies: Faculty of Grad. Studies Award.

2001 U. of Calgary, Faculty of Graduate Studies: Graduate Research Scholarship.

2001/'99/'96 Canada Council: Grants to Professional Artists, Crafts: Travel Grant.?

1996 City of Winnipeg: Grants to Individual Artists.
Manitoba Arts Council (MAC): Short Term: Travel Grant. 1996/'83/'81/'80 Crafts Guild of Manitoba: Scholarship Bursary.

1995 Canadian Crafts Council: MCC/CGM Nominee, Saidye Bronfman Award. Manitoba Arts Council (MAC): Grants to Individual Craftspersons.
MJA Jewellery Design Competition: First Place, Division II, over $1,000.

1994 MJA Jewellery Design Competition: First Place, Division II, over $1,000.

1990 Manitoba Crafts Council: Design Award.

1989 Manitoba Arts Council (MAC): Grants to Individual Craftspersons. Fourth Annual Spring Crafts Show: Juror's Commendation.

1988 Third Annual Spring Crafts Show: Juror's Commendation.?1987 Second Annual Spring Crafts Show: Western Works Purchase Prize.

1986 Manitoba Arts Council (MAC): Grants to Individual Craftspersons. 1985 The Medium is Metal: A Canadian Gathering: Production Award.

1984 The Medium is Metal: Juror's Commendation.?

1983 Ontario Crafts Council: Kingcrafts/Lady Flavelle Award.

2006 Strange Attractors, at the Harris-Warke Gallery, Red Deer, AB and online (URL–

2002 Fragments of Desire, at the Little Gallery, Department of Art, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.

2000 Brooching the Subject, at the Cultural Centre Gallery, Medicine Hat Cultural Centre, Medicine Hat, AB.

1988 Jewellery View: Paul W. Leathers, at Harhay & McKay Jewellery, Toronto, ON.


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