Cathryn Jasterzbski "The Bead Necklace"
Cathryn Jasterzbski "The Bead Necklace"
Incubation: Artists in Pursuit of Discovery

Cathryn Jasterzbski "The Bead Necklace"


galvanized steel, fabric cord
welding, metal fabrication
1.5" x 24"

"We are characterized by the assets which comprise our identity. I am a female contemporary jeweler coming from a working-class family, specializing in skilled manual labor and currently existing within the world of academia. As such, I am always walking the line between these class structures and gender roles and find myself reflecting on the ways I shift between them. This body of work redefines the value of the working class through a confluence of materials and techniques to bridge the gap between the two worlds that construct my identity—allowing my identity to coexist within both yet bound by neither. Through the integration of both masculine and feminine craft-based processes, I create hybridized pieces of jewelry that combine normative expectations of gender and materiality. The mission of my work is to both reveal and elevate the labor that exists hidden behind objects and structure made by skilled tradespeople, by creating amuletic badges that counter our societal and material expectations of jewelry."

Through my assistantship at Peters Valley, I have learned so much about the field of jewelry and metalsmithing as well as other fields of craft-based study. I have made excellent connections with artists, educators, and gained insight about various teaching methodologies in art and craft which has made me a much more efficacious teacher. I have also developed as an artist more than I would have otherwise because of my time at Peters Valley — challenging my thoughts, beliefs, and making ability in a supportive yet rigorous making environment. I have learned from master craftspeople and observed masters in the making. Peters Valley led me to my choice of graduate study at Rhode Island School of Design which I will forever be so grateful for. I will always treasure the summer that I spent at the Valley as an assistant and will look forward to each time I return as I continue to grow and progress as an artist throughout my life. 

Cathryn Jasterzbski, New Paltz, NY
Cathryn Jasterzbski is a trained goldsmith from the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York. She completed a BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing and a BS in Art Education from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 2015. Recently, she graduated with her MFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from Rhode Island School of Design in 2019. Through jewelry, she explores her working-class upbringing as it relates to her contemporary jewelry practice. Her research is built upon theory relating to class construction, working-class identity, and repair. She conducts interviews with individuals participating within the working-class which function as primary source material for her practice. Cathryn’s attention to ethical metalsmithing is present in her jewelry through her use of reclaimed steel, which is the primary material from which her work is made. Through welding steel, in the format of jewelry, she reflects on the collision of class structures present in her life while affirming the equal value of knowledge and skills that both provide.

Cathryn has taught at Rhode Island School of Design - Providence, RI, Snow Farm New England Craft Program – Williamsburg, MA and, the 92nd Street Y - New York, NY. She recently completed the Baltimore Jewelry Center Artist Residency – Baltimore, MD and is the recipient of the Marzee Graduate Prize, Nijmegen, Netherlands 2019 as well as the Ethical Metalsmiths Emerging Artist Award 2019. Presently, Cathryn is building and instructing the fashion and jewelry program in Hyde Park Central School District, Hyde Park, New York while continuing to make her work in her personal studio.

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