May 04, 2011

Society to honor Kington for lifetime achievement

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- L. Brent Kington, Southern Illinois University Carbondale professor emeritus and metalsmithing and blacksmithing legend, is the 2011 Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

The award ceremony is set for May 27 at the SNAG national conference in Seattle, Wash., during which Kington will deliver a short presentation of his life and work. The conference, according to SNAG information, is dedicated to Kington this year.

Kington taught in the SIUC School of Art and Design for 35 years, beginning in 1961. His presence and his reputation were essential for making SIUC known as destination for metalsmithing and blacksmithing students. Kington served as director for the School of Art and Design from 1981 to 1995, and he retired a year later. The program he founded remains highly regarded today, and is among the many reasons for the lifetime achievement award.

Kington’s works are showcased in at least 25 permanent collections, including the National Museum of American Art, which is one of the Smithsonian Museums, and in the National Ornamental Metal Museum, the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, and of course SIUC’s University Museum.

The Illinois State Museum hosted a retrospective of Kington’s work titled “Mythic Metalsmith,” highlighting his early cast silver and bronze toys, and the forged iron and steel he created as he began blacksmithing, and also some of his larger, abstract sculptures. His work has been the subject of many other solo exhibits, and part of other exhibits, in some of the most prestigious art venues in the world, including the Vatican Museum in Rome and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and venues in Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Kington was a founding member of SNAG, founded in 1969. He also has professional affiliations with the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America, the American Craft Council and the National Ornamental Metal Museum. He is an American Craft Council Academy Fellow, and he holds a gold medal from the American Craft Council.

At SIUC, the blacksmithing studio bears his name, and, in 2006, SIUC established the L. Brent Kington Professorial Endowed Chair.

In addition to these honors, and the SNAG Lifetime Achievement Award, Kington has honors and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Craft Council and the Artist-Blacksmith Association of North America.

SNAG is the premier association for artists, designers, jewelers and metalsmiths, and encompasses all forms of contemporary metalsmithing. It is a not-for-profit educational organization with more than 3,000 members worldwide. To learn more about SNAG, visit

To learn more about SIUC’s School of Art and Design, including its metalsmithing and blacksmithing program, visit