Jewelry Metal Arts News

Posted on Friday, January 27, 2012 by Molly Mitchell

A CCA student greets visitors to the School to Market booth at the 2012 American Craft Council Show at Fort Mason.

California College of the Arts and the American Craft Council have in common a passion for furthering craft education and mentoring young makers.

It’s no surprise that CCA and the ACC have over the past years joined forces to produce a number of programs geared toward the practice and business of making and selling craft.

Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 by Jim Norrena

We invite you to learn more about the following alumni of CCA's Jewelry / Metal Arts Program by visiting their websites to review their current work, see what projects or events are coming up, read about past accomplishments, and see for yourself how CCA shaped their vision as artists.

Graduates leave CCA with the ability to realize their most adventurous ideas and the motivation to make a positive impact on the world -- ready to succeed in studio practice, the professional workplace, or a top-tier graduate program.

Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Cory Gunter Brown and Cassidy Hope Wright founded The Moon, a self-described "slow fashion" boutique and design studio in 2007

This is the first installment in a series of artist profiles that depicts CCA's connection to the Oakland Art Murmur -- in particular to 25th Street in downtown Oakland, where in almost any given gallery, shop, or studio, artists from California College of the Arts are making their living in the arts. Collectively, they are changing the cultural landscape of Oakland, elevating its reputation as one of today’s most talked-about art scenes.

Earlier this summer, while walking along 25th Street between Broadway and Telegraph avenues in downtown Oakland, I found myself appreciating a discernible shift in the neighborhood's appearance. It used to be only abandoned warehouses and defunct automotive repair shops comprised the city blocks in this area (the result of 1989's Loma Prieta earthquake, which took its toll on an already economically depressed downtown Oakland).

Yet now, slowly, one by one, this same area seems to be the impetus for an appreciable spate of creative businesses and artist live/work spaces.

Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Happy Earth Day, CCA!

California College of the Arts is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review, an education service that helps students select and apply to colleges.

CCA's inclusion in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition reinforces the college's reputation as an exemplary institution of higher education committed to sustainability.

The news, which USA Today reported Wednesday, April 20, arrives just in time for today's Earth Day celebration—and brings to a close CCA's Earth Week festivities with a remarkable bang!

The Guide to 311 Green Colleges, the first and only free comprehensive college guidebook to focus solely on high-ranking U.S. colleges and universities, showcases outstanding commitments to environmental sustainability in and out of the classroom (e.g., environmentally related practices, policies, and academic offerings). The 220-page guide contains profiles of 308 institutions of higher education in the United States and three in Canada, all of which demonstrate a significant commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Join us at the many events scheduled to celebrate CCA's 2011 graduating class

Note: This page showcases the wide selection of end-of-year events CCA hosted in 2011. Events listed here are for illustrative purposes only; all events have passed.

Posted on Friday, October 8, 2010 by Lindsey Westbrook

Erin Soojin Kang, Into My Own I (2008)

CCA Jewelry / Metal Arts alumni Rachael Nyhus, Erin Soojin Kang, Jennifer Cornell, Taylor King, Corey Lico Wolffs, Alexis Myre, and Stephanie Webster, along with faculty members Marilyn da Silva, Curtis Arima, David Cole, Deborah Lozier, and Angela Hennessy, showed their work at the 5th Annual Intercollegiate Metals Exhibition at Arizona State University October 11–22, 2010.

Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2010 by Marion Anthonisen

Positively consumed by the energy of CCA’s end-of-year celebrations, we’re shifting blog gears from the beginning of the undergraduate experience to its conclusion. Through July, I’ll be posting short profiles of this year's graduates, a talented group of young emerging Bay Area artists. Stay tuned!

Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 by Jim Norrena

California College of the Arts is proud to announce not one but two 2010 Windgate Fellowship Award recipients: Rachael Nyhus and Alexis Myre, each a senior in the Metal Arts / Jewelry Program. Only 10 fellowships are awarded annually, with each awardee receiving a $15,000 reward—making the award program notably competitive!

Posted on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 by Lindsey Westbrook

Frederick Loomis, The DIOS Neuroprocessor . . . a Proposal for the Cover of the New Yorker, 2008View slideshow 

It's 3 p.m., and the Interface exhibition opens in four hours, but Media Arts chair Barney Haynes is calm amid a sea of laptops and electronics. "It'll all come together," he says. "Well, most of it will."

Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2009 by Lindsey Westbrook

Victoria Montgomery's earring-back necklace

"Garbage in, garbage out," or so they say. But CCA's students this past fall turned out some impressive exceptions to the rule.

San Francisco was the third city to host the Radical Jewelry Makeover, coordinated by Ethical Metalsmiths in conjunction with multiple Bay Area art schools, galleries, and metalsmithing groups.

First came a Bay Area–wide call for donations of unwanted jewelry. "We filled a table with it," says Curtis Arima, a faculty member in the Jewelry / Metal Arts Program, "not just gold and silver but lots of junk jewelry, earrings without mates, et cetera. The students had a great time picking through everything and selecting parts for their projects."

Every student currently enrolled in a Jewelry / Metal Arts course spent 10 intense days remaking the jewelry into new creations—either collaging existing elements together, or completely melting them down and re-forming them. Their finished pieces were exhibited and sold at Velvet da Vinci in San Francisco, a highly regarded jewelry and metal sculpture gallery. Donors received a discount in proportion to their contributions. Everything that hadn't been appropriated was sent on to the next stop on the project's tour.

Switching up the script

The Radical Jewelry Makeover was a great way to start the semester, as one student put it, by "switching up the script." CCA's program usually emphasizes a balance between concept and craft; weeks might be spent articulating what a new piece will communicate before any physical work begins. The Makeover's 10-day time frame demanded a dramatic shift in both aesthetics and modus operandi.

Many reported feeling a sense of collaboration with unknown jewelers of the past, and with the pieces' anonymous former owners. Sophomore Jean Saung observes, "I wanted people to recognize some of the parts taken from the old jewelry, and to appreciate the recombination of their past and history to create new meanings. I made a necklace from pieces of an old watch by prying apart the metal wrist links and re-forming them into cubes, which I slipped onto a neck wire. I wonder if people will recognize the 'beads' for what they truly are.

"Certain parts, which used to belong to completely different pieces, actually seemed like they were meant to be together. I was also surprised to find myself gravitating toward the costume jewelry and the non-precious materials. I liked the idea of making something that was not very valuable into something someone would want to keep."

Senior student Victoria Montgomery agrees, "Metalsmiths, just like any other artists, sometimes get stuck in their own ways of creating. That week was a way of breaking free from the rut. It felt like a week dedicated to play. The studio came alive with a constant buzz of artists sharing materials and ideas.

"Some of the donated items were over-the-top costume jewelry. They were visually daunting, but once I started simplifying, that's when my pieces started to take form. For example, the donation box contained endless costume earrings from the 1980s, most missing a mate. I started collecting all the clip-on mechanisms and studs and treated them as links in a large chain. I liked the surprise of something so forgettable as the back of an earring suddenly taking the stage."

Mining the drawers

Ethical Metalsmiths views this project as a way to get young jewelers thinking early about their materials—first and foremost mined metals such as gold and silver, but also the stuff at the back of people's drawers that would otherwise become landfill. The organization is working on several aspects of mining reform, including the establishment of standards for certified recycled metal, which can be advertised to consumers who want to buy responsibly.

A trip to Malakoff Diggins up in California's gold county is a reminder of how destructive mining is. According to Ethical Metalsmiths, to mine the gold for one new ring creates a staggering 20 tons of waste rock. Mining is a core industry in many countries, and the arsenic, lead, and other chemicals required to process ore cause serious health problems and pollute the land and the water supply. Not to mention the terrible child labor practices and other human rights violations that often plague mining economies. In the United States, hard-rock mining produces more toxic waste than any other industry, and 80 percent of all mined gold is used to produce jewelry.

Senior student Russell Larman found great inspiration not only in the project, but also in the organization behind it. "It's important to remember that the history of our new pieces did not begin with the people who made the donations," he says. "They were only temporary custodians in a larger life cycle. Objects have an inherent history that often becomes separated from them when they are packaged as consumer products. As consumers of gold, silver, platinum, and gemstones, we have a responsibility to make sure we're not supporting unethical labor conditions in the communities that make these materials available to us."

Sustainability in metalsmithing

Surprisingly, even though gold and silver seem expensive, many jewelers do not recycle their metals. The Radical Jewelry Makeover was an occasion for an open dialogue about issues of sourcing, and for Arima to give demonstrations to the students showing how easy it is to melt down gold and silver and reuse them.

MFA student Anna Adair remarks, "The project's focus on sustainability and our ethics as practicing jewelers was, for me, the most important component. It's not something we can afford to ignore, on either a commercial or a conceptual level. A couple of years ago I wasn't thinking about my studio practice in these terms, aside from basic recycling and proper disposal of chemicals. Scrutinizing my studio habits was an eye-opener."

Saung echoes, "I had thought about sustainability and reuse for some of my smaller crafts and hobbies, but I never really had the motivation or courage to incorporate the concept into my studio work. My jewelry metal was always just processed metal I could easily buy. Now I am changing that, and I think it was my experience with this project that gave me the courage."