Munya Avigail Upin
“The evolution of one’s work is like a memoir in progress.”
Munya Avigail Upin is a nationally renowned artist with over twenty-five years experience in the field of metalsmithing. Her award-winning work has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the world and has been published in numerous periodicals, newspapers and books. In addition to teaching at colleges, craft centers and museum schools, Upin has created one-of-a-kind pieces for synagogues and private collectors.
A native of Faribault, Minnesota, Munya Avigail Upin has been exhibiting her silver work nationally and internationally for twenty-one years. She first began experimenting with metal while in high school and later studied art metals at Drake University in Des Moines. Upin later entered graduate school at San Diego State University where she studied with Arline Fisch and Helen Shirk. She received a M.A. in Art Metals from San Diego State in 1979 and later earned a M.F.A. from California State University at Fullerton.
She has taught at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Penland School of Crafts, and at workshops and art schools throughout the United States.
Though Upin’s early work was primarily sculptural, her recent work focuses on the design and creation of Judaica. She was raised in a rural community about fifty miles from the nearest synagogue. Though her family was one of only three Jewish families in the town, Judaism was nonetheless a large part of her life and continues to influence her work. Most of the ritual objects that she creates incorporate woven silver, a technique that has become her signature. These unique pieces have been commissioned by Temple Beth-El, Providence; Temple Emanu El, Houston; Temple Beth-El, San Antonio; and the Jewish Museum, New York.
The evolution of one’s work is like a memoir in progress. Narrative work coexists with functional work and both say something about the maker. The work may depict one’s childhood dreams, a circutious journey through life, or serve to enhance a ceremony. Whatever the statement or purpose, the work is genuine and revealing.
My work is represented by both sculptural and functional objects. The sculptures portray aspects of my life from childhood to adulthood. The pieces are about dreams, pain, surprises and realizations. Though the imagery ranges from non-representational to figurative, all the sculpture, in one way or another, documents my memories. The work is both evocative amd cathartic, and serves as my unwritten memoir.