UNM-Gallup Visiting Assistant Professor Kristi Wilson and two of her students recently attended the annual Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) Conference in Asheville, N.C. and brought home a wealth of information, education and memories. 

Wilson was accompanied by Sharmayne Arviso and Jade Hustito who were both students in her Small Metals Construction class. The three participated in lectures, demonstrations, exhibits and social networking events in the field of contemporary jewelry making. 

SNAG supports and advances the professional practice of jewelry designers, artists and metalsmiths.  The first SNAG conference was held in 1970 with the intent of creating an organization dedicated to these professionals and their art. 

A keynote speakers at this year’s event was Gary Noffke of the University of Georgia who is a master metalsmith and instructor with over 30 years of experience in the field.

Noffke’s presentation had a strong effect on Arviso who noted, “It got me thinking that whatever choice I make as a first time jewelry maker, I can always have a way of expressing myself and that it is okay to create something of your own and be proud of it.”   

She was also inspired by, “The need to find your own voice to create your own ideas as a jeweler—whatever piece you make becomes a personal, wearable signature of your own.”

Traveling Students
UNM-Gallup students Jade Hustito and Sharmayne Arviso and Professor Kristi Wilson attended the 2016 Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference in Asheville, N.C.

Hustito was also grateful for the opportunity to attend the conference and although the cloudy and rainy weather was admittedly different from what she is used to in New Mexico, she said, “My trip to Asheville can be summed up in one word— golden. The passion from all the presenters in their field was invigorating. Inspiration seemed to flow freely as well as knowledge.”  

Already in possession of an associate’s degree in Design and Digital Media, Hustito is pursuing a second degree in Information Technology, but hopes to continue gaining skills in small metals construction.

Professor Wilson was impressed with the popularity of southwestern styles in jewelry-making. 

“A lot of makers are influenced by the Southwest, so there was a strong interest in our institution,” said Wilson. “It was a great feeling being a representative from UNM-Gallup and to promoting our programs and our students.” 

The trip was sponsored by the UNM-Gallup Faculty Professional Development Committee as well as Student Senate. 

According to Wilson, “This experience not only inspired me as an artist in my field but as an instructor who can’t wait to share my knowledge from the conference with my students in the upcoming semester.  It helps to keep ambition high and create a positive studio practice.”