From the Field
New blog by Olivia Shih, 2016 SNAG/crafthaus Conference Scholarship Recipient
“In this crafthaus blog, I will explore the intersection between gender and jewelry with a three-prong approach: interviewing artists who do not shy away from words like “gender issues,” “feminism,” and “sex”; analyzing the work of said artists and the reach of their work via questionnaires; and reinvigorating conversation about gender in jewelry by putting together an online exhibition.”
Welcome to a new feature called “Compelling Questions.” Every month SNAG will feature a question that is posed to one or more people in the field of jewelry and metals and post their answer(s). We start with jeweler Kate Wolf.
Mary Ann Scherr, recognized as one of America’s most prestigious and influential designers, died at her home in Raleigh, NC on March 1st. She was 94 years old. Mary Ann was born in Akron, Ohio, and lived in Illinois, Michigan, and New York City before moving to Raleigh, NC in 1989.
Mary Ann’s voluminous resume includes seven decades of work as a designer, metalsmith, jeweler, educator and studio artist. She created book illustrations, fashion designs, costumes, graphics, product designs, and jewelry. Subsequent to WWII, she was the first woman to be hired by Ford Motor Company’s automotive division, and she designed for other corporations, including Goodyear, Alcoa, and US Steel. She owns patents for her design of body monitors, and copyrights for processes such as the instant photo etching of metals. She pioneered the use of exotic metals in adornment, stainless steel, rare earth metals, aluminum and mild steels.
Mary Ann Scherr’s jewelry, and designs in metal, can be found in the permanent collections of major museums, including The Vatican, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Art and Design in New York, Goldsmith Hall in London, The Renwick Gallery in the Smithsonian, the U.S. National Archives in Washington, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Mary Ann shared ownership in Raleigh’s Roundabout Art Collective, where she exhibited her work. Her jewelry designs have been featured in North Carolina by the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, The Mahler, the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild, and the Penland School of Crafts.
A companion career as an educator began in 1950 at the Akron Art Institute. Teaching was one of the greatest joys of her life. She taught at Akron University, Kent State University, Parsons, Duke, Meredith, Penland, Haystack, Arrowmont, and the NCSU Crafts Center, and in workshops both in America and abroad. She was beloved by thousands of students worldwide who referred to her as a master teacher. She said that teaching was “a design in itself,” and students were thrilled to be involved in her unique process of creation. Mary Ann’s joyful approach to life was dynamic and inspirational, and her observation that “design is everywhere” riveted both students and friends. She lived by her motto “create something everyday.” Her longest tenure as an educator, 48 years, was at the Penland School of Crafts.
Mary Ann’s list of Boards, community service, publications and awards, is extensive. She served as a Board member for the Gregg Museum, Raleigh Fine Arts, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the Visual Arts Exchange. She also served on the Board of the Society for North American Goldsmiths and the Penland School of Crafts. She was a Fellow of the American Craft Council, and an Honorary Associate of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London. She was interviewed on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Dan Rather’s Evening News, and NBC’s That’s Incredible, and has been featured in over 25 books and magazines.
In 2014, Mary Ann was a nominee for Cooper-Hewitt’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She received many more honors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of North American Goldsmiths, The College of Fellows Award from the American Craft Council, the “Lifetime Achievement” Award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the North Carolina Medal of Arts Award, and the North Carolina Governor’s Achievement in Fine Art Award.
Mary Ann was predeceased by her husband of 54 years, Sam, and is survived by a daughter, Sydney, who lives in Malaysia, two sons, Randy, and Scott, daughter-in-law, Debora, and grandson Dylan, all from Raleigh. Hiroko Swornik and Jaclyn Davidson, from New York, lived with the Scherr family for many years. The family is deeply grateful to TEAM MARY ANN, and to all her devoted friends.
Mary Ann Scherr’s life was a model of living and loving life to the fullest. She sought to maximize the creative potential in herself and in everyone she met. Elegant, beautiful, unique, Mary Ann is deeply loved by those who walked on the path she traveled.
A private service for family will be held at the Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, 300 Saint Mary’s Street, in Raleigh.
A CELEBRATION of the life of Mary Ann Scherr for family and friends will be held at a date to be announced.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Gregg Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, and to the Penland School of Crafts, P O Box 37, Penland, NC, 28765, where The Mary Ann Scherr Metals Scholarship has been created in her honor to fund a student wishing to study at Penland.
Cindy Edelstein, entrepreneur, author, editor and long time consultant to the jewelry industry, died suddenly January 24, 2016. She was 51. The cause was heart failure.
Cindy was to present at the upcoming SNAGneXt conference, and we are deeply saddened that she will not be with us.
Cindy began her career in the jewelry industry as an editor at JCK magazine where she was the fashion editor. This brought her in contact with jewelry designers and their work, and she soon came to realize that working with them would be her life’s work. In 1991, wanting to support the growth of this segment of the industry, she founded the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau with her husband, Frank Stankus, with the idea of highlighting the designers and their work in multiple ways.
Over the years she worked in many roles to that end, including that of trade show consultant for the JCK show, the Couture show and the AGTA show as well creating her own designer-centric show, globalDESIGN. She also was a prolific writer about jewelry design and her byline could be found in every jewelry trade publication as well as in industry online columns. With her husband, she co-wrote a book titled Brilliance: Masterpieces from the American Jewelry Design Council. It sold out of its first printing.
Her efforts to help designers of every level of achievement brought her some well-deserved recognition. She was awarded the prestigious Benne Award by the American Jewelry Design Council in 1995, and was the 1996 winner of the Contemporary Design Group’s award as Best Designer Advocate. She was a long-serving member of the board of the Women’s Jewelry Association, an international group to which she devoted many years of volunteer work. In 1990, she received that organization’s Award for Editorial Excellence, and in 2001 she was recognized again by the same group for her Excellence in Marketing.
Cindy was born in Brooklyn and attended schools on Staten Island. She attended college at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Hofstra University from which she graduated with a bachelors degree.
She is survived by her husband Frank, a daughter, Remy Sasha Stankus, a stepson, Byron David Stankus, a brother, Philip Edelstein, as well numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and other family members whom she loved so dearly. Services are being arranged and will be announced as soon as possible.