Just Say Yes

When contemplating her first sabbatical, Associate Professor Tracy Steepy – who is also Graduate Program Director in Jewelry + Metalsmithing – set three rules for herself: do more listening than talking, avoid any planning and say yes to all (reasonable) offers.

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The rules served her well. As Steepy told the audience at her lunchtime sabbatical presentation last Wednesday, in her year away from RISD she traveled to Korea, Germany, Finland and Holland; showed her work in several international exhibitions; and completed a two-month artist residency in Amsterdam sponsored by the Francoise van den Bosch Foundation.

Amsterdam is a hub of contemporary jewelry making, and Steepy took the opportunity to connect with incredibly inspiring local artists – and even invited two of them, Ela Bauer and Andrea Wagner, to teach at RISD last fall. But it was the canals and boat culture of Amsterdam that most intrigued her, inspiring her to play with the concept of receding land masses in the series of work she began there.  

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A piece from Steepy’s 2012 Ply Portraits series: Folded Oval Necklace (wood, steel, resin)

Steepy’s work integrates the natural and the artificial, the fabricated and the mass-produced, the authentic and the simulated. The pieces she prepared for the group show 2011 Contemporary Pulse, which traveled in Korea, incorporated plywood – an inherently artificial material and one not typically used to make jewelry – and focused on flaws in the wood. “I am interested in fakes,” she says – “things that stand in for other things.”

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Divided (wood, steel) from the Ply Portraits series

Every month in the Tap Room, RISD faculty talk about the work they produce while on sabbatical. On April 3, at 12 pm, Associate Professor Khipra Nichols and Professor Judy Sue Goodwin-Sturges will present.

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