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WJA Awards $16K in Scholarships to Eight Students

Jul 21, 2014 4:16 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... The Women's Jewelry Association (WJA) awarded $16,000 in scholarships for the 2014 to 2015 school year to eight students in undergraduate and graduate degree programs for jewelry and metalsmithing. Annual scholarship funds are raised through the WJA's annual awards for excellence gala, raffle and silent auction along with  individual member donations, sponsors and from funds such as the Marilyn DaSilva Fund, the June Herman Fund and the Myra Goldstein Scholarship Fund. WJA's Awards for Excellence gala is coming up on July 28 at Pier 60 at the Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Melissa Cousins from the University of Georgia received the $4,000 June Herman Designer and Creator Scholarship for her lunar hair pin with enamel on copper and brass.  Champlevé enamel features the phases of the moon, as they relate to moon's position relative to the sun and earth. The design is set on a brass hair pin with pierced back.  Cousins, who double majors in jewelry and metals and marine biology, plans to use her scholarship to study intermediate and advanced metals, advanced jewelry, scientific illustration and ceramics.

"I have been interested in entering the jewelry field since I was 13; the beauty of creating a piece of jewelry from a bit of sheet metal fascinates me," she said. Her goals for the future are to open up her own shop for custom, handmade jewelry and to learn and develop new techniques for creating jewelry. She'd also like to become a gemologist.

Sylvie Alusitz of Rochester Institute of Technology received the $2,500 Myra Goldstein Designer and Creator Scholarship for a cage bracelet (pictured) in brass, shibuichi, sterling silver and black spinel. This piece was created as a protective element for the wearer's wrist. The bracelet hinges open with a magnetic closure and incorporates brass inlay. The stones are screwed in, acting as a structural reinforcement and visual elescholarship awardsment. 

Alusitz , who is majoring in jewelry and metalsmithing, is also studying art history, book binding, welding, flame working, plus the use of wood, glass, fibers and clay. Alusitz has worked as a bench jeweler intern and assistant jeweler at several wholesale and retail jewelry firms. She said, "Each piece I create I consider a work of art with a physical relationship to the body, which bridges the gap between jewelry and sculpture. I draw inspiration from all areas of life, often referencing themes of protection and family. I aim to one day have a successful line of my designs, which continues to be handmade and focused on craftsmanship." 

Eunwha Son from the University of Kansas won the $2,000 Marilyn DaSilva Designer and Creator Scholarship the "Reborn" necklace with Tyvek (housing insulation  backing)  and 23-karat gold leaf. The piece was inspired by a dream that the artist's mother had (in Korea, mothers-to-be have a specific dream called a "conception dream" that is used to predict the child's sex and characteristics). The dream involved a number of colorful snakes in a river that started from a waterfall with a rainbow over it. Each unit of the piece indicates snake scales. The artist found Tyvek to have a paper-like feeling-but it was much stronger than paper. A hint of 23-karat gold leaf adds a high contrast for colors and meanings. 

Son is in a graduate program in metals and jewelry, has won a variety of scholarships in both South Korea and the U.S., as well as last year's Myra Goldstein WJA Student Scholarship, and a 2012 student scholarship from WJA. She's held a number of teaching positions, including, presently: instructor for a digital jewelry design class at the University of Kansas. "I have been interested in incorporating non-precious and precious materials and playing with the notion of what is precious," Son said.  "Paper and plastic possess many qualities that are useful to me. They are more accessible, lightweight, colorful and inexpensive." The artist's goal is to obtain a professional position in the jewelry field specializing in jewelry design within the nexus of art, fashion and fine jewelry. 

Katelyn Butler of Missouri State University received the $1,500 Designer and Creator Scholarship for a two-finger ring with sterling silver (925), fine silver (999), and blue chalcedony. It is die formed, fabricated, and granulated. In this piece, the artist wanted to challenge her problem-solving skills, craftsmanship and sense of aesthetics.

Butler said, "I love placing big ideas in small places. I want people to respond to my work by looking very closely. I am also concerned with the idea of impermanence, and the immortal nature of the material that I work with in relation to the ephemerality of my own body. Because of the unyielding nature of the material, I am constantly required to flex my own intentions in order to abide by the temperament of the material." 

Butler is majoring in jewelry and metalsmithing and she has also won a scholarship to attend the 2014 Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) conference, and will be using her WJA scholarship to study 3D printing, advanced metalsmithing, contemporary art and medieval art. 

Amanda Ortman of Virginia Commonwealth University won a $1,000 Designer and Creator Scholarship for her domed necklace with copper and mixed metals. The necklace is made with bone designs placed on segments that are connected to one another with sets of rings. Rather than a traditional closure, the necklace is open and drapes down the back.

Ortman's studies include a sculpture major, craft and material studies minor, art history minor and an undergraduate certificate in product innovation. She plans to use her scholarship toward classes in ancient Peruvian textiles, advanced sculpture, and math modeling. "Metals are now figuring higher and higher into the type of art that I want to create. I want to pursue taking my skill set in metals to the next level and thus redirect my art practice toward jewelry making," she said. 

Lopeeta Tawde of the University of Kansas won a $1,000 Designer and Creator Scholarship toward classes in the Matrix CAD design program, gemology and the history of jewelry.  Tawde is pursuing a master of fine arts degree in metalsmithing and jewelry design and submitted a pumice stone brooch in sterling silver and garnet. The pumice was carved and prong set. The artist used the technique of reticulation on the silver design to interpret the textures on the pumice stone. Wire work in the center creates a movement in the piece and an offset tube-set garnet finishes the piece. 

Tawde has won a variety of awards and scholarships, both in the U.S. and India, and has been a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Kansas and a teaching assistant at Oklahoma State University. Her ultimate goal is to work as a jewelry artist and pursue a career in academia. "I have always been fascinated by the simplistic beauty that nature exhibits and amazed with the complexity in its form. I have strived professionally to reflect these natural colors, textures, forms, and compositions through jewelry and metals," Tawde said.  
A $2,000 Designer Scholarship was awarded to Maggie Horvath of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for a moving bangle CAD rendering in satin nickel silver and brass. The bangle is interactive and the wearer is able to use this piece as a fidget piece for fun and stress relief. Each of the circular forms extending from the bangle moves in a separate track. This allows the wearer to constantly move and play with the piece.

Horvath said, "I feel that jewelry has a more definitive connection with people than any other art form. My work is meant to be fun and playful, and goal is to provide people with jewelry that when worn brightens their day and brings a smile to their faces." She  is pursuing a master of fine arts degree in jewelry, studying contemporary jewelry and 3-D visualization and working as a graduate teaching assistant for creative thinking. The artist has been accepted in a variety of juried exhibitions, including the SCAD exhibit in the American Craft Council Show in Atlanta and the Kutztown University exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Her long term plan is to become a high school teacher or professor.   

Dorothy Cheng of West Dean College in the U.K. received a $2,000 Non-Designer Scholarship toward pursuing  a master's degree in the conservation of metalwork. She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in metal design from the University of Washington and was a studio assistant to goldsmith Lori Talcott, and worked as maker of production, custom, and art jewelry. Cheng said, "Developing expertise in techniques that metalsmiths before me have used will sharpen the skills that I have already put into practice and give me a broader perspective on the design choices I make in my own work. Learning how to repair the stresses of time and human wear will also make me a better craftsperson." After completing her studies, Cheng would like to continue her jewelry studio practice, while freelancing as a metalwork conservator.


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Tags: design, Jeff Miller, scholarships, students, Women's Jewelry Association
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