Alumni Spotlight | February 2018
KU major: Metalsmithing and Jewelry, Class of 2013
Current occupation: Jeweler
Research mentor while at KU: Gina Westergard, Jon Havener, Lin Stanionis
Describe the undergraduate research experience that you had while at KU:
A: During my time as a full-time student, I received four research grants from the KU Honors Program to fund my independent research in the arts. For the grant proposals, I explained in detail the importance of my proposed research to people outside of my field, in a clear and engaging manner. Once funding was received, it was my responsibility to follow through on my research, and report back the results of my findings. I also shared the knowledge which I acquired with my peers and the faculty at KU.
Q: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while doing undergraduate research?
A: The four research grants which I received are listed below: 2012-Casting Components, Lin Stanionis, Faculty Sponsor; 2012-Jewelry Business: Form & Function, Jon Havener, Faculty Sponsor; 2011-Professional Practices for the Working Artist, Gina Westergard, Faculty Sponsor; 2011-Chasing & Repousse: An Exploration of Metal, Gina Westergard, Faculty Sponsor. Having the support of KU with these research projects gave me confidence to know that whatever my interest is, if I make the effort, I can become proficient.
Q: What advice do you have for undergraduates who might be interested in doing research or creative scholarship?
A: Go for it! I feel that my knowledge of the intricacies of my field have benefited immeasurably through these research projects and awards. Choosing the subjects to study in depth gave me such gratification and working closely with a teacher/mentor as I explored my research topics was an amazing opportunity for me.
Q: Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation? How so?
A: I am a full-time jeweler now. I sell my work in shops, at art shows, and through commissions. I learned a lot about the business aspect of my discipline while working on Professional Practices for the Working Artist. During this research project, I interviewed several working metalsmiths and learned how they manage production, pricing, marketing, and promotion of their work. The information I received from these metalsmiths is still valuable to me today as I grow my own business.
Q: Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate from KU. Having been in those shoes, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? Do you have any advice?
A: It takes time to establish yourself in your new field. Once you decide what direction you want to go in your post-graduation work, remember that you must start somewhere. I would recommend making a timeline, with goals. I worked a half time job for a few years after finishing school. This afforded me the time to dedicate to my jewelry making, and having the income of part time work made it so that I was not entirely dependent on my income as an artist as I was getting started and making a name for myself. Additionally, networking is very important: meeting with fellow artists and learning from each other has been a tremendous resource for me.