Written by Harriete Estel Berman
It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of Marjorie Schick. This is a devastating loss to the craft and metal arts community. My memories of Marjorie are, in every sense, colorful. I’m sure that many others would agree. She wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
You might remember Marjorie from her bold and colorful attire with bright fuchsia hair or gigantic jewelry. While it might seem superficial to mention this first, Marjorie’s appearance was simply her first statement. When she walked into a room, she and her artwork were seen.
At right: Marjorie Schick, Rainbow Riot, necklace and wall relief; necklace: 2008, wood, waxed linen, paint; wall relief: 2011, wood, paint; photo: Gary Pollmiller
The jewelry and objects Marjorie created were statements of visually large proportions. The display of the jewelry was often integral to the work, not unlike the person herself. Placing Schick jewelry in the average display case was out of the question. It could not be contained within normal definitions or expectations for jewelry, either literally or figuratively.
Marjorie did not follow conventions or fashion or dictates of shifting trends. She followed her own singular path. Nothing was quickly thrown together or thoughtless. Her creative expressions of paper mache or fabric were painted, and painted over and over again with layers of nuance. The color palette was developed with an eye for combinations, hues, and tones that could not be rushed.
Each year for the SNAG conference, Marjorie would create a small group of about 12 “pins” to give away. If you have one of those pins, you will always know that it came from Marjorie Schick. Each year they were different, reinvented, and always memorable. A photo of a few of these pins accompanies this post to share them again with everyone.
Marjorie represents a piece of history within the jewelry metal arts community. She was a font of knowledge going back to the 1970s. She traveled the world and exhibited her work internationally. A few years ago I was wearing a piece of jewelry that my parents had found in an East Coast antique store. They knew that I would love it, and I did, but when Marjorie saw it, she identified it as an example of Caroline Broadhead’s production work from the 1980s.
What happens when we lose a person that is such a significant presence in jewelry history? We have lost much. You can read an Oral History Interview with Marjorie Schick or listen to an audio excerpt with Tacey A. Rosolowski in the Smithsonian Archives. Another option is to purchase her book The Jewelry of Marjorie Schick which contains an entire Oeuvre Catalog of everything she ever made. I recommend doing both.
Thank goodness that these resources exist, but it won’t be the same going forward without Marjorie.
Marjorie you will be missed.
Marjorie Schick, Spiraling Over the Line, 2008; photo: Gary Pollmiller
We regret to announce the passing of Ron Ho on September 7, 2017. Ho was a long-time SNAG member. He was a world-renowned jewelry artist and celebrated teacher. His work is in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Tacoma Art Museum. An oral history of Ho’s life is at the Smithsonian Institution.
In 2006, the Bellevue Arts Museum honored Ho by presenting 51 of his pieces in the exhibition and catalog Dim Sum at the On-On Tea Room – The Jewelry of Ron Ho.
Among other awards, Northwest Designer Craftsmen named him a Lifetime Award Member in 2006 and in 2007 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Seattle Metals Guild. In 2010 Ho was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Craft Council.
Read more about Ho’s life in the Seattle Times.
Northwest Designer Craftsmen are producing a video about Ho for their Living Treasures Project.
Lee Marshall, of Santa Cruz, CA passed away June 25, 2017. Marshall, a former SNAG member, was the founder of both Bonny Doon Engineering and Knew Concepts. Bonny Doon Engineering developed a series of hydraulic presses and tooling for shaping and forming jewelry. Knew Concepts sells saws designed by Marshall.
A full account of Marshall’s remarkable life can be found here.
We are saddened to announce that long-time SNAG member Betsy Douglas passed away on September 2, 2016. Douglas was an Arizona icon in the metals field with an illustrious career. Her work ranged from modern designs in silver, gold, pewter and titanium to more recent work with lead computer frames, Chinese coins, aluminum, brass and copper. Douglas served on the SNAG board from 1992 to 1994. In 2014 her art was featured in the exhibition Betsy Douglas: Metal and Beyond at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum in Mesa, Arizona. As a maker, her strength was in the excellence of design and elegance of form.
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.