"Marshmallow close-up"

This work by Becky McDonah was the winner of the 2012 Refined competition. "Refined VIII: Maker's Choice" opens Friday, Jan. 24, with a lecture at 5:30 p.m. followed by a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. in The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts and School of Art will host "Refined VIII: Maker's Choice" exhibition Jan. 24 through March 29 in the Reavley Gallery of The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.

"Refined" is a biennial exhibition of jewelry and metalwork hosted by the art metals program in the School of Art at SFA since 1998, according to John Handley, director of art galleries at SFA.

"Each exhibition comes with a theme, and 'Maker's Choice' seemed a good idea as it denotes that these artists are makers of fine art," Handley said. "'Refined VIII: Maker's Choice' challenges artists to display their authentic talent, free from the concern of modifying the work to satisfy one theme."

All work must be original and completed within the last two years, and submitted works are open to a full range of processes and materials.

"This exhibition is focused on the diverse field of metalworking and jewelry," said Lauren B. Selden, assistant professor of art metal/jewelry at SFA. "Whether you work in metal, stones, plastic, fiber or found materials, if you are a 'smith,' it carries into whatever work you create."

This year's juror is Cindi Strauss, assistant director, programming and curator for modern and contemporary decorative arts and design at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In her dual roles at the MFAH, Strauss is responsible for the acquisition, research and exhibition of post-1900 decorative arts, design and craft as well as working with Steven Holl Architects to develop the program for the MFAH's new building for post-1900 art.

In her time at the MFAH, Strauss has curated more than 20 exhibitions relating to her field. Recent exhibitions include "Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection," "Form Follows Function: Celebrating the American Institute of Architects Houston Design Collection at the MFAH," the traveling show "Ornament as Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection," "The Past Made Present: Contemporary Art and Memory" and "Liquid Lines: Exploring the Language of Contemporary Metal." She has authored or contributed to major catalogues on craft and design media as well as written extensively for journals. She has also delivered lectures on craft and design topics at museums across the United States as well as at national symposia and art fairs.

The show will open Friday, Jan. 24, with a lecture by Strauss at 5:30 p.m. during which time she will present her work and announce the exhibition winners, followed by a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House is located at 329 E. Main St. For additional information, call (936) 468-1131.