Metalsmithing instructor forges successful students

Professor Allison Black encourages originality in the studio and teaches her students how to appreciate art.

Black is a professor of Art and Fine Arts who teaches at both the Reese and Levelland campuses of South Plains College. Black, who has been teaching at SPC for 17 years, went to graduate school at Texas Tech University. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in jewelry and metalsmithing, a BFA in studio art, and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in studio art, with a major in metalsmithing and minors in ceramics and art history.

Before coming to SPC, Black worked at South Jacinto College South in Houston for three years. Afterwards, Black moved to Missouri to work in a community arts center for about a year. Due to extenuating circumstances involving funding of the community arts center, she had to leave the center and find a new job.

Black has been working toward her PHD for about eight years. Her last topic was studio art practice in higher education. In Black’s opinion, a good studio teacher demonstrates, “knowledge of the techniques, a good report with the students, and the ability to draw out the student’s creativity to not only point out what’s working in the project but also how it could be improved.”


She teaches the basic design skills needed to succeed and encourages originality with a patient and knowledgeable attitude. Black was able to design the metal studio in the Fine Arts Building at the Levelland campus.

“It is truly a beginner’s studio,” Black said, “with room for 16 students to learn the basics of metalsmithing: sawing, filing, finishing, working with patinas, casting, cabochon stone setting, and light forming.”

Black has many years of experience in the field of metalsmithing. She says that she has been working with metal since she was 16 years old. She also has a love for teaching, which allows her to have a career combining the two things she loves: metalsmithing and teaching.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Black said, “I love teaching and I love metalsmithing. So getting to combine the two is very satisfying.”

Black’s satisfaction with her job not only comes from the art she creates, but also from the student’s actions and ideas in the studio or classroom.

“I love teaching art majors, but I also love teaching non art majors as well, because they are our future art lovers and future artists,” she explained.

She says that many of her Art Appreciation students may start the class without a solid understanding of what art is.

“Being able to help them gain knowledge to be able to go to a museum or look at all of the art in our visual culture with new eyes is very rewarding,” said Black.

Black teaches other classes as well, including painting, drawing, design, art history, ceramics, and sculpture. She enjoys every aspect of art, saying, “It all comes within the same core within me.”

Black demonstrates her strengths in the studio by knowing the subject matter of her discipline. Her work has been exhibited regionally and nationally. She was featured in Ornament Magazine, an international magazine of wearable art.

“I was asked to create a mace, an academic mace for San Jacinto College South,” Black said. “I was commissioned for that. It was really exciting.”

Black considers the success of her students to be very rewarding as well. Previous metalsmithing students of hers have moved on to study metalsmithing at four-year universities, or have their work displayed in galleries in various parts of the country.

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