~~Jean Westman - Biography
I was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota and lived there till I retired from the Human Nutrition Research Center in 2003. My husband, Dwight, and I then moved to Climax MN. We moved again last November to Crookston, MN because our house was bought out to make way for the town dike.
I began my studies at the University of North Dakota as an older-than-average student and while employed by the university, I took all the required jewelry classes and then did independent study, in that department, for another four years.
I have been fortunate to be able to study under a variety of accomplished jewelry artists. My first instructor was Ellen Auyong. She started the jewelry program at the university. My next teacher was Nelda Schrupp, a Native American whose main focus is sterling silver ceremonial rattles and other related jewelry. Her jewelry is displayed at the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC. Tara Stephenson came to the school the next year. Her focus was lockets and boxes with hinges and clasps. Her husband, Dennis Nahabetian, helped out sometimes. He is known for his mesh forms that relax the boundaries between metal and fiber art. Dennis and Tara also introduced me to the art of enameling glass onto metal. My last instructor at the school was Melissa Lovinggood. She aided me when I focused on researching the wrought iron crosses in turn of the century cemeteries.
Early in my jewelry education I received a scholarship to Split Rock Arts in Duluth MN. I study with Pier Volkos. She discovered Polymer Clay in Germany and introduced the art form to us here in the USA. The next year I returned to Split Rock to study with Mary Lee HU. She uses precious metals to sculpt thru wire and fold forming.
Since my retirement I have traveled to cemeteries in several states photographing wrought iron crosses and researching the history of the same. I discovered that many different countries have their own style of these crosses.
The main focus of my art is to create sterling silver pendants that depict the various styles of individual blacksmiths here in the United States and in other countries.