The Mentor: Kirsten Rook, jewelry artist and teacher.
The Lesson Learned: I want to be an art jeweler.
Kirsten has been teaching classes for over ten years at the Maryland Institute College of Art's Jewelry Center - an expansive metals studio located off campus. In my junior year at MICA I began taking jewelry classes once again after being introduced to the medium back in high school. Kirsten was the first teacher I had at the Jewelry Center, and by far my favorite.
First, just on a superficial level, she was both intimidating and inspiring to me: she dressed cool, had a hip haircut, was super friendly and easy to admire. More importantly, she was an excellent teacher. Attentive, patient and great at explaining the many intricate processes involved with jewelry making.
She's also the first teacher I had that turned me on to the possibilities of what jewelry could be. She gave slide presentations of incredible, inspiring, vastly different types of contemporary jewelry being made around the world. The boundaries melted away. There were seemingly endless possibilities! I became particularly fascinated by art jewelers that employed alternative materials or found objects in their work. I was inspired and awed by: Robert Ebendorf, Fred Woell, Caroline Broadhead, Harriet Estel Berman, Judith Hoyt, Gijs Bakker, Bruce Metcalf, Tone Vigeland, etc… Any jewelry that was atypical, conceptual, or thought provoking beyond mere aesthetics became my passion.
The line between "Art" and "craft" was blurred for me- even to this day I see little distinction between conceptual jewelry and art with a capital "A." I never realized jewelry could be that way before that point in my life and I've been forever hooked as a result.
So… thanks for all the inspiration Kirsten!