Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Nancy Worden is a jewelry artist living in Seattle. She has been making jewelry for over thirty years and is currently represented by the William Traver Gallery in Seattle and Helen Druitt in Philadelphia. Her work is represented in major collections including the City of Seattle’s Portable Works Collection, Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, and the Stedelijk Museum’s Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, as well as many private collections. She has taught widely at such institutions and artist residency programs as Central Washington University, Penland School of Crafts (NC), Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (ME), and Pratt Fine Arts Center (Seattle). Her work has been featured in such national publications as Metalsmith, American Craft, and Sculpture.

Nancy also received a 1992 GAP.

As part of her Fellowship’s Meet the Artist requirements, Nancy taught a jewelry workshop at Toppenish High School. The art teacher, Laura Wise, had introduced copper enameling and glass bead making, and wanted a jeweler to teach her students to solder and work in silver. Worden wrote a proposal to the Seattle Metals Guild for money to buy enough silver for 28 students to make a ring. The Guild sponsors a statewide exhibition of metalwork made by high school students as part of their educational outreach program; they were enthusiastic about the workshop and generously donated $500 for the silver.

There are about 750 students at Toppenish High School and the population is about 50% Native and 50% Hispanic; 98% of the students receive a free or reduced lunch and breakfast. Many of the students literally come to school to eat, and most of the students come from cultures that revere artists and the arts.

Ms. Wise arranged for her advanced art students to be excused from their other classes so they could spend the whole day focused on Worden’s workshop. Ms. Wise also promoted Worden’s visit to the administration and student council and as a result, other teachers dropped by throughout the day to observe the workshop. The student response was amazing: they sent representatives from the student newspaper and the closed-circuit-student-run-television station to interview Worden. She reported, “The entire school went out of their way to make me feel welcome; in fact, they treated me like a celebrity. I have been teaching workshops around the country for many years to both kids and adults, but I can honestly say I have never been treated as respectfully or as enthusiastically as the way I was treated at Toppenish High School.”

In one day, the students learned to use a jeweler’s saw, a drill press, hand files, pliers, hammers, mallets and stamps. Every student learned to use a torch and successfully soldered a ring. They also had an interesting discussion about the importance of jewelry in human cultures and interpretations of content in contemporary jewelry. At the end of the school day, the kids didn’t want to leave and Ms. Wise finally had to pack up the tools and shoo them out.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.