United States


The Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) is pleased to announce this year’s Emerging Artist Award winner, Sharon Massey. Ms Massey was chosen from among ninety-one entries, a record number, from the United States, Canada, China, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, The Netherlands, Italy and Israel.

The goal of this award is to acknowledge promise, innovation and individuality in the work of emerging artists. The competition is open to makers of art jewelry who have recently completed their professional training and have not been a featured artist in a commercial gallery or museum. Ms Massey will receive a $5000 cash award. In addition, her work will be featured by an AJF member gallery at the Sculptural Object and Functional Art (SOFA) Expo in Chicago and in AJF advertisements and she will serve as a juror for next year’s competition.

Jurors for the 2009 competition were Ursula Ilse-Neuman, curator of jewelry at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City; Gail Hufjay, long-standing member of AJF and a collector of contemporary jewelry; and Masumi Kataoka, jewelry artist and recipient of the 2008 award.

Sharon MasseyCriteria used in the judging were originality, depth of concept and quality of craftsmanship. Ms Massey’s work expresses the value of sentimentality through ornamentation. She fabricates iron wire and combines it with cotton muslin fabric, allowing the iron to rust in to the fabric, creating color, pattern and a sense of the passage of time. Masumi Kataoka commented, 'I admire how she lets nature take over the work . . . by letting the iron rust into the fabric, using the color as not just a decoration but a meaningful contextual component.' Ursula Ilse-Neuman added: 'Sharon Massey’s highly accomplished hand-process of mixing precious and non-precious materials – iron, cotton muslin, beeswax, antique cameos, silver and gold – imaginatively joins tradition and innovation. Her talent for finding the right combination of materials and shapes with which to create intriguing surface pattern on organic/three-dimensional shapes, allows her to explore a vast array of visual and tactile possibilities for the human body. Her masterful hand-craftsmanship combines pattern with sculptural form to evoke the “luxury” in art jewelry with a very contemporary sensibility.'

Ms Massey received a BFA in sculpture with a concentration in jewelry/metals in 1999 from Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC. She received a Masters in Metal Design in 2006 from East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.

Rebecca StrzelecHonorable mention was given to Rebecca Strzelec. This is only the second time since the award’s inception that honorable mention was given. Ms Strzelec received a BFA in 2000 and an MFA in 2002 in metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Ms Strzelec submitted work from several series two of which were Army Green Orchids, which redefined the corsage to draw attention to casualties in the Iraq war; and the Shorthand Series, which she says is a subtle comment on how she creates her work in that the brooches are a 3D version of a 2D shorthand outline.

Ursula Ilse-Neuman commented: 'Rebecca , a close runner-up, expresses intellectually challenging ideas in her one-of-a kind, CAD/CAM pieces. Her work goes beyond the application of an advanced technology characteristic of our age, to imbue this new formal language with an aesthetic sensitive to profound social, political and personal messages that distinguish her work from purely formal/technical concerns.' And Masumi Kataoka noted, 'Ms Strzelec is able to use the CAD/CAM process in her own unique way that is easily recognizable from other people’s work in the same medium.'

Formal announcement of this award, with images of the work, will be made at SOFA Chicago, November 6-8, 2009.

July 23, 2009
Contact: Susan Kempin

Jo Lauria in Conversation
2009 SOFA Speaker