The RISD Jewelry + Metalsmithing department was established to cultivate an individual’s distinctive abilities as a designer, jeweler, and professional artist.
Both our four-year undergraduate program (BFA) and two-year graduate program (MFA) encourage a wide range of approaches for a strong studio practice that seeks new interpretations of jewelry’s inherent relationship to the body.
A carefully planned curriculum guides undergraduates through progressive levels of design and technical proficiency and provides a balance between the well-established tradition of the goldsmith and the pursuit of unique contemporary work. We encourage students to take unconventional departures that are expressive of and responsive to the changing values of our world.
Through intensive studio practice and critical research over two years, RISD graduate students identify their own distinctive perspectives and methodologies and develop creative practices with high levels of skill and sensitivity. Graduate seminar courses provide an important supplement to the J+M studio classes. Issues particular to our field are addressed along with explorations into the larger context of contemporary fine art, craft, and design.
The department offers two paths in the J+M graduate program: a two-year MFA program for candidates who have earned a BFA with a concentration in the field and a one-year post baccalaureate for students seeking additional experience, technical proficiency, and exposure to current theory and analysis.
The department’s size and high ratio of faculty to students promote individual attention, free exchange of information, and guided support. Our facilities are equipped for advanced and specialized work. Students have access to a spacious, well-equipped studio including enameling, metalsmithing, machinery, and computer studios, as well as individual bench space with torch and ventilation. A full-time technician maintains the facilities to ensure a safe, efficient working environment. J+M also offers classes in CAD/CAM, electroforming, and other current technologies.
The Rhode Island School of Design, founded in 1877, has earned an international reputation as a preeminent college of art and design. RISD offered its first classes in jewelry and goldsmithing in 1879 and established a formal department of Jewelry + Metalsmithing in 1904 to train craftsmen and artists in producing metalwork—jewelry, silverware, hollowware, and sculpture—for the trade and manufacturing industries in Rhode Island.
The college includes the RISD library, with a circulating collection of more than 150,000 volumes offering unusual depth and richness in the areas of art, architecture, design, and photography. The RISD Museum is a key cultural asset to the regional community and houses 85,000 works of art in its permanent collection.
Brown University and Johnson & Wales University are RISD’s neighbors in historical Providence, with Boston an hour to the north and New York City just over three hours to the south.
The J+M faculty includes two full-time professors and six to eight rotating critics. The J+M department hosts four visiting artists yearly and invites guest critics to attend mid-term and final reviews each semester. J+M faculty work collaboratively to offer rich educational experiences for the talented and motivated students we are fortunate to work with.
Robin Quigley, professor and department head, oversees the RISD Jewelry + Metalsmithing department and maintains an active studio practice. Her small-scale formal compositions made with informal materials reflect upon issues common to human nature. Quigley exhibits her work both nationally and abroad and has received two National Endowment Fellowships, among other awards. She values the professional exchange and illumination gained by teaching in other schools and participating in artists residency programs, most recently at West Dean College in England, the Jam Factory in Australia, and the Paul Gauguin Cultural Center in the Marquesas Islands.
Tracy Steepy, associate professor and graduate director, is an artist whose work focuses on the format and subject matter of jewelry. She received her BFA from Indiana University and her MFA from the SUNY New Paltz metals program in 2000. In 2008, she participated in an artist-in-residence program, supported by the International Artists Studio Program in Sweden, at the MADE BY studio in Stockholm, Sweden. Following her time in residence, Steepy curated an exhibition of five Swedish jewelers titled The Silence Is So Loud at Gallery Loupe in Montclair, New Jersey. Her most recent work, Where the Line Leads, featured at the Sienna Gallery in Lenox, Massachusetts, was the culmination of her investigation into surface and pattern through the fabrication of plastic plaid. Before joining the faculty at RISD in 2004, she taught for three years at the University of Oregon.
Noam Elyashiv, senior critic, is a studio artist/jeweler who makes mainly one-of-a kind work. Born and raised in Israel, she received her BFA from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem (1990) and her MFA from RISD in Providence, Rhode Island (1994). Noam has received several awards for design excellence including the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Award, the Absolut Vodka Emerging Artist Award, and a fellowship in crafts from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Elyashiv’s artwork derives from her interest in correlations and interactions between line, plane, and volume. In a work entitled Drawings from Ireland, her jewelry captures the precision and linear quality of her drawings. Elyashiv has been on the teaching faculty of the RISD Jewelry + Metalsmithing program since 1994.
Barbara Seidenath, senior critic, uses traditional techniques to realize her ideas and has for many years been experimenting with enamel. Initially exploring the expressive qualities of color and surface, she has more recently been examining the dimensional possibilities of transparent enamels. Above all are form and design. “I like to share a view into my world through the pieces I create, inviting the wearer and the viewer to continue that special dialogue that only adornment can offer.” Seidenath’s work has been shown internationally at galleries and museums including the Museum of Art & Design, Helsinki, the Gallery for Applied Arts, Munich, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York.
A passion for making wearable objects and her active professional studio practice are, for Seidenath, “vital resources for teaching in the classroom.” A visiting lecturer at many universities around the world, and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, she has been teaching at RISD since 1993.
Johan van Aswegen, senior critic, is a highly regarded enamellist and jeweler. He was born in Namibia and studied in Munich under famed jeweler Hermann Jünger before coming to teach at RISD in 1996. Van Aswegen’s jewelry encapsulates an age-old tradition in the field—that of personal marker or monument. The scale and tone of his work is monumental; subtle arrangements of historical references and classic forms combine with desert-like tonal variations in color to embody the purity of contemporary ornamentation. Looking at the future through history, he draws inspiration for his work from everyday life—“little marks in the big picture.” Exhibited internationally at galleries and museums including the American Craft Museum, New York, Ntsikana Gallery, South Africa, and the Stadtmuseum, Germany, van Aswegen’s work is also in private collections, as well as in the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Recent visiting artists to the J+M department include Monika Brugger, Donald Friedlich, Adam Grinovich, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Susan Hamlet, Mielle Harvey, Arthur Hash, Sergey Jivetin, Seth Papac, Maria Phillips, Jill Slosburg-Ackerman, Bettina Speckner, Sarah Turner, Sissi Westerberg, Deborah Todd Wheeler, and Heather White.
RECENT GRADUATES: If you recently received a degree--BA, BFA, MA, or MFA--from this university, everything you need to know to upload your graduate portfolio can be found at this link.