Artist Joy Stember was very young when she felt the inspiration to be an artist. Her father, a skilled jeweler, encouraged her to pursue her seemingly natural talent. At age five, she took her first art class and began honing her skills in ceramics. This granted her the opportunity to enroll in her first adult pottery course at the age of nine.
“In high school I was allowed to focus my curriculum centered in the ceramics room and jewelry studio,” Joy says.
Her first involved art project was created when she was in the 10th grade – a large Holocaust memorial menorah crafted from 200 pounds of clay, sculpted to resemble bones. The seven branches of the menorah hold yahrzeit candles.
Also, around this time, Joy began making colorful jewelry and friendship bracelets with her best friend. “I was an entrepreneur from the start!” she says. “We would bring them everywhere with us. I would sell the items to my parents’ friends. One of the first pieces I sold was called ‘snakes on a pin.’”
It was in the winter of 2010 that Joy discovered her true passion. While on a Taglit Birthright trip to Israel, Joy remarked, “I was captivated by the landscape, culture and history. When I returned home, I felt a stronger connection to Israel, my culture and my identity as an artist.” She began focusing most of her work on creating contemporary Judaica full-time and opened a studio. The Joy Stember Metal Arts Studio, LLC, located in Abington, Pennsylvania, has allowed Joy to share her beautiful and unique craft with the world.
Joy’s inspiration comes from the clean lines and repetitive nature in urban landscapes, as well as mid-century design. She uses a variety of metals such as pewter, brass, bronze, silver and copper to produce her designs.
“My work is handmade in the United States and each piece is lovingly fabricated by scoring and folding sheets of pewter to make three-dimensional works of art,” she explains. “The gorgeous textures are pulled from many influences and are embossed into the metal. As a designer and maker, my intent is to encourage the importance of American high-end craft in the modern home by creating contemporary heirlooms for a new generation of collectors.”
When asked how she decides where to sell and showcase her work, Joy stated that if a store or gallery is interested in her work and it matches their mission and esthetics, she allows it to be sold. She does try to spread out her work (so) as to not over-saturate markets with the same pieces, continuing her mission to make unique artwork.
In Memphis, you can find Joy’s pieces at T Clifton Art Gallery located in the fun and vibrant Broad Avenue Arts District. Her beautifully crafted work is also sold at the WRJ-Temple Israel Sisterhood Judaica Shop, tisisterhood.org. “My site, joystember.com, has been very well received and is a convenient way of viewing all of my work,” she said.
Joy received the Eric Berg Prize for Excellence in Metals at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, which is one of the most respected shows in the country. Her work has also been shown in some of the most prestigious juried craft shows in the country including: The Smithsonian Craft Show and the American Craft Council shows in Baltimore and Atlanta.
Additionally, she has been included in national competitions and publications such as: Lark Books’ 500 Metal Vessels and 500 Judaica. Joy was a 2008 Rio Grande Saul Bell Design Awards Finalist, a 2010 and 2011 NICHE Awards Finalist, and a 2012 NICHE Award Winner in the Judaica Division.