Symposium 2014

Symposium 2014

This year the 19th Annual Northwest Jewelry and Metals Symposium is going to be held on Saturday, October 18th at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, Washington. We’re excited to announce an amped-up lineup of SIX speakers this year! Our confirmed presenters are curator Suzanne Ramljak, historian Stephen Fliegel, metalsmith Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, artist Lori Talcott,  jeweler Todd Pownell, and Vivian Beer.


Introducing new speaker – Lori Talcott!!

Our advertised speaker Jennifer Trask has been forced to withdraw from the symposium at short notice, so we have searched high and low for a suitable replacement. To that end, we would like to thank Lori Talcott for graciously agreeing to step into the position at the last minute, with her presentation “What would you take into the dark?”

Lori is local metal artist whose work is featured in the Tacoma Arts Museum current exhibition Protective Ornament: Contemporary Armor to Amulets, curated by Suzanne Ramljak. This connection with the show, as well as her extensive metals practice, makes her an excellent addition to our program.

Welcome and thank you Lori Talcott!!

 Lori Talcott

Lori Talcott | Metal Artist

What would you take into the dark?

Talcott holds a BA in Art History and Scandinavian Studies from Washington State University and a BFA in Metal Design from the University of Washington. She has long combined her art historical research with her metals practice, the depth of her simultaneous pursuit typified in her apprenticeship to a master silversmith in Oslo, Norway. She currently divides her time between research and making in her studio in Seattle, and her role as part-time faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Talcott has received an American – Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship Award as well as numerous Artist Trust awards, and her works are in the collections of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum. Her work is currently a part of the Protective Ornament: Contemporary Armor to Amulets at the Tacoma Arts Museum, curated by Suzanne Ramljak.

We thank Lori for graciously accepting our offer to speak for us at the very last moment, as a replacement for our advertised speaker, Jennifer Trask.



Read on to discover more about our awesome line-up!


Myra Mimlitsch-Gray - Copper Chiclet Tray

Myra Mimlitsch-Gray – Copper Chiclet Tray

Myra Mimlitsch-Gray Circle: Round

This lecture primarily explores the artists’s work and ideas over a 25 year period. There will be reflection on the current state of the field and the impact of artist residencies on her personal studio practice.

Todd Pownell - Rings

Todd Pownell – Rings

Todd Pownell Live/Work–Finding Our Studio’s Stride

Todd will discuss the early influences that led him to attend a technical school for jewelry fabrication and his continued education with gemological studies. He will relate the prime intersections and relationships in his career growth and including conscious working choices that has led to his current design style and the development of a small, growing working studio team.

Jennifer Trask - Compositae Back

Jennifer Trask – Compositae Back

Jennifer Trask Written in Bone Cancelled

While making this group of objects and jewelry I had a question in the back of my mind: “what is written in our bones?” Meaning, what desires, ideals, and motivations do we carry silently? Neither clearly baneful nor benign, these objects are intended to mirror our complex relationship to our own internal nature(s), and the peculiar concept of dominion over intrinsic nature, or wildness by engineering a domesticated, ornamental nature. This presentation offers insight into Trask’s studio practices and the ideas that inspire her sculpture and wearable works.

Vivian Beer - Infrastructure Series

Vivian Beer – Infrastructure Series

Vivian Beer Practical and Preposterous Making

Our domestic landscape of “stuff” is a powerful subject/format for expressing concepts and engaging us all into an imaginative and physical experience. Furniture is site specific to the body in a very intimate way and our relationship to industrial processes/materials is both intimate and at times mysterious. The emotive impact of using them to create one of a kind sculpture and furniture has a complicated power.

In this lecture I will take you through many of the techniques that I use, and my thought processes around mixing together these two culturally charged worlds. It is structured to take you via imagery and video through the work I make, the chronology of my research and the design methodology I use to make decisions.

Fliegel Image 4 1964.88det01_w[1]

Stephen Fliegel

Stephen Fliegel The Technology of Art: Arms & Armor of the Middle Ages and RenaissanceArms and armor-making techniques had reached a very high level of sophistication in ancient Greece and Rome. However, the full flowering of armor in the European West in all of its technical and aesthetic perfection was not achieved until about 1450 to 1650. The forging of steel, a very hard material, into precisely fitted, interconnected plates was a task requiring great skill and patience. For the warrior, martial supremacy was secured not only through skill, discipline, and training but also through the possession of superior arms.Arms and armor of the Middle Ages and Renaissance represents a competition between two rival technologies—defensive armor to make the warrior impervious to harm, and offensive weapons constructed to defeat those defenses. It was essential that both be constructed with the greatest technical knowledge and skill, a process that often resulted in objects of great beauty. It was during this epoch that armor, often highly ornate, achieved one of the greatest expressions of European decorative arts. Armor historically has symbolized rank, wealth, and authority. It eventually assumed a purely decorative function–the aggrandizement of the wearer.

Kate Mess - 'Til Death Do Us Part

Kate Mess – ‘Til Death Do Us Part

Suzanne Ramljak All is Fair in Love and War: Ornament as Lure and Defense

The stakes could not be higher in the arenas of love and war, representing as they do the species’ drives to reproduce and survive. The strategies for success in both spheres involve similar tactics including conspicuous display, entrapment, and deception. Throughout history, ornament and metalwork have had a crucial role to play in courtship and in battle. This lecture will survey contemporary examples of wearable metalwork that are designed to disarm their opponents, either in the name of passion or protection.

Of the many reasons for us to gather in Tacoma this year, one of the best is to witness the unveiling of the exhibition Protective Ornament: Contemporary Armor to Amulets, which opens on the day of the Symposium. Our speaker Suzanne Ramljak, also known as the editor of Metalsmith magazine, curated the show and will be at the Tacoma Art Museum to celebrate the opening with initiator, Carissa Hussong, of the Metal Museum in Memphis.

We’ve chosen the beautiful backdrop of the History Museum to hold the Symposium, thanks to its easy walking distance to TAM. And if you are keen on making the most of the trip, our Symposium date coincides with the annual Tacoma Arts Month which is going to feature Metal-Urge, a celebration of metal arts, so there will be lots to see and do all through October.

For the grand finale, our close-of-day speakers’ reception will also double as the opening celebration for the Protective Ornament exhibition. That way, once the curtains go down on the Symposium, we can all come together and see the Protective Ornament exhibition.

Need more information? Check back regularly for more details, or send an email to

See you in Tacoma!