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WJA Awards Scholarships to 11 Students

Jul 17, 2015 11:56 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... The Women's Jewelry Association (WJA) awarded $21,000 in scholarships to 11 students attending trade school and college degree programs for jewelry making and design in the fall 2015 and spring 2016 school year. This year, the WJA added a $5,000 Female Veteran Scholarship to the program, which was sponsored by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, and it was awarded to Jenifer Bellefleur, a student at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Bellefleur, who served in the United States Army as an explosive ordinance disposal technician, was honorably discharged and went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota with a degree in law, criminology and deviance. She earned a master's degree in leadership at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Bellefleur began working as an artist in photography and jewelry 10 years ago and currently works as a designing jeweler and studio manager in Minneapolis, while she is working toward her graduate jeweler diploma from GIA.

"I have engaged in many art forms throughout my life, including drawing and painting, sculpture, film production and photography," said Bellefleur. "It is not a coincidence that all of these mediums have ultimately driven my choice to devote my work and energy to creating jewelry. I attended a community art show recently that showcased student paintings. As I studied the paintings, I noted that so many seemed to reflect a pervasive angst and sadness. Reflecting on my own work, I saw the same familiar thread of pain. However, I realized that jewelry is perhaps the only art form I have ever engaged in, which stems only from joy and beauty...the ultimate goal for me, for all of my work and educational pursuits, is to put more beauty out into the world, to reclaim and recapture beauty that already exists, and to repurpose it so that someone can wear it and love it today."

The $3,500 June Herman Designer/Creator Scholarship Award was given, for a second consecutive year, to Melissa Cousins at the University of Georgia, where she studies advanced jewelry, art history, painting and intaglio printmaking, in preparation for her bachelor of fine arts exit show.

Cousins said, "Being an artist for me is not just about creating art. I find great pleasure in the act of making -- from sketching to planning to fabricating to finishing -- to me, jewelry is the ultimate art, drawing from all the various forms of art and academics and combining them into one discipline that heightens each. Jewelry is the art of memory and sentiment, fundamentally rooted in science, history and culture." Eventually, Cousins hopes to operate her own boutique or jewelry line with handmade, innovative jewelry and may  one day teach jewelry at the university level.

Susan Thornton, who is attending the New Approach School for Jewelers, received the $3,000 Myra Goldstein Designer/Creator Scholarship Award. Thornton owns Thornton Metals Studio in Watertown, Tennessee and intends to use the scholarship to study stone-setting and fabrication.  "I am very excited to be able to add the expertise Blaine Lewis [owner of New Approach] offers to my jewelry skills," she said. 

"As a studio artist I use jewelry as a means to express complicated ideas about structure and space. I draw on historical references and modern jewelry techniques to obtain my ideas. I create patterns to use for replication of design elements integral to the process of making a piece. I use traditional metalsmithing techniques of shell forming, sawing, piercing, raising, fold forming, hammer texturing, sinking and soldering to produce my pieces from precious metals," Thornton said.

The WJA awarded a $2,000 Marilyn DaSilva Designer/Creator Scholarship to Savannah College of Art and Design senior  Hannah Hash, who is completing her bachelor of fine arts in jewelry and intends to use the funds to study accessory design and business skills. Hash has held a job at Fossil as a Michael Kors jewelry design intern and upon graduating, she intends to be a jewelry designer in a "corporate setting."  Hash said, "As a designer, I aspire to design fashion jewelry that reaches a mass-market. Working for a brand allows one to design aesthetically to a specific target audience. I find satisfaction in designing jewelry that is tailored to a very specific brand lifestyle.

"After working as a designer for a while, I am interested in pursuing a job working on a product development team. I am intrigued by the business side of the jewelry industry in terms of overseeing designs going into production. I enjoy the interaction between the product developers, the buyers, and the manufacturers during the whole design process from start to finish," Hash said.

Four students each received a $1,000 Designer/Creator Scholarship, including Kim Hung Chea, a jewelry design student at GIA, Emily Culver, who is pursuing a masters of fine art degree in jewelry at Cranbrook Academy of Art,  Haiyin Liang, who is majoring in metalsmithing at Colorado State University and Qiuting Wang, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design.

The $1,000 Designer Scholarship was awarded to jewelry-major Chujun Li of  Savannah College of Art and Design and WJA issued two students $1,000 Non-Designer Scholarships -- Carla Caravante, who is attending GIA, and Miranda Harter, a student at North Bennet Street School in Boston.
 

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Tags: awards, Jeff Miller, scholarships, wjs, Women's Jewelry Association
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