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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Metal Bird

Carolyn Fink

Carolyn Fink’s married name comes from the German word for finch. Her maiden name is Robinson. As she has honed her skill as an artist working with metal, Fink finds that her trademark has become a little bird made of metal.

A graduate of Kendall College of Art & Design, Fink works in many mediums, but favors metalwork.

“When I started off with my welding, my daughter brought home a poem by Emily Dickinson, ‘Hope is a thing with feathers/That perches in the soul,’” Fink says. “It just stayed with me and from that year on I made birds and put them on my sculptures.”

A conversation with Carolyn Fink

After graduating from Kendall, Fink worked in graphic design and advertising. When her children were small, she continued as a freelance designer in 2005. Then she came across an ad in the local newspaper for welding classes taught by Holly Fisher, and her interest piqued. Fink enjoyed trying out new mediums and she had never worked with metal before.

“I had never thought about welding until I saw that ad,” Fink recalls. “I called her and found out she was offering the class at my son’s Boy Scout meeting times.”

Fink couldn’t make that schedule work but she kept an eye out whenever Fisher started a new class. It took several rounds, but Fisher finally adjusting her schedule to meet Fink’s, moved by her persistence.

“I was with Holly Fisher from about 2005 to 2007,” Fink says. “I would do graphic design for her in exchange for a small discount on the class.”

Carolyn Fink

Now a practiced artist who sometimes teaches classes herself, Fink explains the process of working with metal. She says it begins with a lot of cleaning.

“Some of the process involves a lot of grinding and sanding and brushing. It creates heat, and you don’t really realize it because it doesn’t become red, so you might forget and touch it. That’s why my arms are covered with scars — from the little flecks that fly off when you weld and the slag that sometimes drips down.”

But Fink says her art is worth the pain, laughing. Poetry may be less painful and Fink is beginning to explore that medium of creative expression too. Fink participates in the Signature Artist Cooperative in Kalamazoo.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

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Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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