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NSCAD students strike gold at SNAG

NSCAD University’s jewelry department head to San Diego for goldsmithing conference.

The 'NSCAD Colour Wheel' built by students at the SNAG Conference. Courtesy of Rebecca Hannon.

On June 5, 10 undergraduate and graduate students from NSCAD University’s jewelry department traveled to the 51st Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference (SNAG) in San Diego, California.

The four-day event was attended by some of the best metalsmithing artists and creators in North America; with special talks, exhibitions, and demonstrations to showcase leading works in metal design.

For many of the students, it was their first time out of Canada, which only enhanced their experience at what associate professor Rebecca Hannon described as, “the most important jewelry conference in the field.”

“I knew that attending the conference would kickstart the students’ exposure to what other makers are doing in the field, and what professional opportunities are available,” said Hannon, who teaches in the Jewellery and Metalsmithing program, and was the lead organizer of the excursion.

“It’s a pretty special time when you’re transitioning from your undergraduate education to launching on your creative path, so this trip was a way to show them the possibilities that are out there,” she continued.

Founded in 1969, SNAG is a nonprofit educational organization that celebrates and advances the art of jewelry and metalsmithing design.

The trip was made possible with support from the Hilary and Galen Weston Foundation, who donated a gift of $500,000 to solidify NSCAD’s standing as a centre for sustainable fashion in Canada.

Undergraduate jewelry student, Cynthia Fraschetti (BFA 2023), was among the lucky few that attended the SNAG conference last month. She said she was impressed by the talented artists at the event.

“It was incredible and inspiring to see such a large community rooted in contemporary jewelry,” she wrote in an email. “I felt so thankful being there — to be able to see all of the artwork, hear multiple artists speak about their practice, and recognize that my peers and I are a part of this community was surreal.”

Alongside professor Hannon, Cynthia and her peers built an exhibition at the conference titled, NSCAD Color Wheel. The concept is based on the works and exhibitions that the jewelry department’s senior studio class had developed and displayed over the winter semester; each piece colour-coded on the wheel to show the variety of work.

“After completing the on-site build, the students were really proud of their work on display, and one student remarked that all of the NSCAD work stacked up well in comparison to the different North American programs at the conference,” Hannon recalled. “NSCAD has been building its profile at this event for a while, so it’s important for us to put our best foot forward as ambassadors of the amazing creative work going on at NSCAD.”

Cynthia said the trip to San Diego has inspired her to make new creations.

“This experience has given me a huge wave of confidence and motivation to continue exploring and expanding my practice,” she wrote. “I also have a background in sculpture and seeing California’s ways of having art as part of daily life —within the architecture, home decor, body adornment, and so on— has encouraged me to get back to working on a larger scale, by creating sculptural objects with jewelry techniques and aesthetics.”

Given the opportunity, Professor Hannon would love to organize another trip with NSCAD students and help them build connections for their future creative career.

“I felt so grateful that I was able to plan and share experiences that I know would be once-in-a-lifetime with the students,” she said. “The Weston Foundation grant ensured that there were no barriers for participants in the group, and I hope future generations of the NSCAD community would be able to experience something like this.”

To see more works from NSCAD’s jewelry department, follow their Instagram page. Read more about the Hilary and Galen Weston Foundation grant here.

Courtesy of Rebecca Hannon.
Courtesy of Rebecca Hannon.
Courtesy of Rebecca Hannon.