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Tom Joyce, Sculptor In Iron

When he was a teenager living in northern New Mexico in the 1970's, Tom Joyce apprenticed himself to a local blacksmith.  Over the next decades, those skills, along with his unusual rapport with iron and steel, led Tom Joyce to a career as an artist of forged metal.  He was recognized with a MacArthur "Genius" Grant in 2003.  His latest sculptures are on display through 2017 at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe.

Tom felt comfortable the first time he entered that blacksmith shop in the village of El Rito.  "It was fascinating to me that iron, seemingly so strong and intractable, could move so supplely and seductively."  That impression continues to inform his work.  "You'll notice with almost all the sculptures that, though solid and heavy and hard, they feel soft and, in some ways, buoyant and light."

Tom's home-based studio is in Santa Fe, but he creates his sculptures at an industrial factory in Chicago.  In this longer version of the interview, Tom talks about the forging facility's "unprecedented," cutting edge technology and how it's "used to move these massive pieces in a way that allows the iron to look like clay."


Spencer Beckwith reports on the arts for KUNM. For ten years, until March of 2014, Spencer was the producer and host of KUNM's "Performance New Mexico," a weekday morning arts program that included interviews with musicians, writers and performers. Spencer is a graduate of the acting program at the Juilliard School, and, before moving to New Mexico in 2002, was for many years a professional actor based in New York City.