Today's Jewelry artists draw from a wealth of technical and conceptual traditions, as well as from high-tech industrial applications. Such a multifaceted medium calls for similar versatility in the classroom, and that is what Western's jewelry department provides. Course offerings center on technical and conceptual issues, incorporating both traditional and contemporary concerns. Discussions, critiques, and lectures emphasize content and the development of personal expression.
The department's approach is one of breadth rather than of narrow specialization. Because jewelry deals with the illusionary space of painting and the real space of sculpture, this medium inspires infinite options. The possible transformations of metal are so many, in fact, that students must maintain flexibility and openness to new ideas. Often, a student's exploration of metal sculpture and studio jewelry-making becomes a springboard for more personal and contemporary image-making. In beginning jewelry courses, students develop skills in fabricating, casting, learn the complexities of soldering, and develop a vocabulary in jewelry aesthetics. In advanced courses, students explore metal and stone potential in its many forms. Traditional boundaries expand and new issues arise as the student's perception changes.
The department offers several multilevel courses in jewelry, metal-smithing, and theory. Beginning and advanced students meet together with the same instructor; beginning students meet as a group, while advanced students receive independent instruction. Complete jewelry facilities are available for students with several torches, buffing wheels and the assistance of a shop technician. The department also features extensive sculpture process equipment. The potential of independent work and course work are available to the student who wishes to pursue signature work in jewelry.