Susan Freda and Arn Krebs are living the dream; a Rhode Island art couple whose successful collaboration is an authentic real-life illustration of the creative value of opposition.
Both Sue and Arn are full-time artists, both create three-dimensional objects using metals as their primary media, yet their achievements come from a combination of two very different approaches to creativity, two different ideas about beauty synthesized into a very cohesive whole.
Sue is a sculptor and jeweler who creates intricate, airy, luminous, extravagantly feminine, crocheted and knitted wire dresses, shoes and jewelry. Her work is defined as much by negative space and light as it is by the materials that give it form.
Arn’s work on the other hand is earthy, dense, fused, forged, folded and twisted using metals and crystalline structures grown and mined from deep in the earth. Mokume Gane is Arn's passion and he is one of the very few jewelers in the world who are skilled in using modern Mokume techniques. From them he creates fine jewelry using combinations of precious metals, forming uniquely patterned wedding rings, engagement rings, and distinctive earrings, bracelets and cufflinks.
Arn and Sue came from opposite ends of the country to a chance meeting at Pilchuck Glass School in northern Washington State, where they were both attending glass art residencies.
Sue was studying glass casting; developing techniques she uses today to form the ornamentations which are an integral element in her sculptures. Arn was studying glass-blowing techniques; experimenting with the layered patterning that would foreshadow his current work in Mokume Gane. It seems almost inevitable their artistic association would be an enduring one. At Pilchuck the campus is a serene woodland retreat where artists can focus, create and dream without boundaries. Everyone eats, works, and sleeps on campus for the entire session and quickly bonds to create an intimate artistic community.
But after their residencies ended, their paths diverged. Sue returned to Tiverton, RI where she owned an art gallery and to finish her MFA at Massachusetts College of Arts in Boston. Arn returned to the University of Hawaii where he also was completing his MFA and refining his skills as a metal smith, glass blower and ceramist. It would seem that would be the end of their collaboration, but in 2007 Arn moved to Boston to work as a metal smith at Skylight Jewelers and their creative paths crossed again. Over time their artistic bond became a personal one and in 2012 they decided to marry, raise a family and create art together.
Being in the studio with Arn and Sue, watching them work both separately and together is like watching an intricate dance of ideas and energies. Both of them find their creative inspirations in forms seen everywhere in nature; lines, layers, webs, spirals
and nests, both of them create in organic linear patterns. While Arn's work evokes primarily masculine energies; geological formations, wood grain, crystalline structures and density, Susan's embody more feminine expressions of energy, botany; webs, reproduction; nests and flowers, plants and stars.
Sue's work is conceptually ephemeral. It begins with a general idea and the creative process is free flowing and spontaneous. Sometimes she begins with one idea and ends up in a completely different place.They also approach their creative process in very different way.
Working in Mokume Gane requires that every step must be planned from start to finish and then demands intense focus in every moment to fuse, fold, twist and carve metals with differing characteristics, compositions and melting points into a single enduring whole while preserving he individual beauty of each.
And yet, from these two different approaches and differing points of view also comes strength and collaborative synthesis. Sue looks to Arn to teach her about form. When she is beginning a new project or a new idea he can show her how to create structural integrity from which her work can then flow freely.
And although he must plan his process from start-to-finish before beginning to create a new piece, Arn has a tendency to be free flowing, spontaneous and distractible in day-to-day life. Sue on the other hand, although creatively spontaneous, has a talent for creating structure in their day-to-day lives and for long-term life planning.
Together they embody the yin-yang principle of seemingly opposite or contrary forces that are complementary, interconnected, and give rise to each other as they interrelate with one another.
Today, Arn has a thriving business in bespoke fine jewelry, engagement and wedding rings made from beautifully patterned layers of yellow gold, rose gold, palladium, silver and precious stones. His clients come from all over the world and his jewelry symbolizes timeless beauty.
Susan exhibits and sells her unique ephemeral sculptures and jewelry in galleries and museums in the US, Canada, England and Italy. Her shoe and dress forms have been collected and presented at NY Fashion Week, Stuart Weitzman, Neiman Marcus, Fidelity Investments, Meditech, Ferragamo, Cirque du Soleil, and by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artists Gallery. Her work is included in the collection of the Museo Italo Americano of San Francisco, and in numerous private as well as corporate collections.