Jewelry and Metal Arts Work Sparkles at The Cannery

Paper Necklace Cropped Edited - Copy

‘A Beautiful Failure’ by Dale Beevers. Photo by Bob Toy.


Necklace by Neysa Makizuru. Photo by Bob Toy.

They didn’t want to wait until the Spring Show to show off their work. So a handful of ambitious members of Academy of Art University’s Jewelry and Metal Arts Club secured gallery space at The Cannery, put out a call for entries and assembled a juried show of their work.

Exploration and Discovery: Advanced Works in Jewelry and Metal Arts features an eclectic and avant-garde collection of wearable and decorative art made from materials ranging from paper and plastic to metal and highly polished wood. The show, which features about 50 works and is open to the public through March 30, is the first of its kind since JEM’s separation from the School of Fine Art – Sculpture. And it succeeds in bringing to light some of the best and most innovative pieces produced in the studios at 410 Bush Street.


Though she underplays her role, JEM Club founder and President Dale Beevers helped orchestrate the gallery event and is involved in several aspects of the School of Jewelry and Metal Arts. She’s a student representative for the M.F.A. program, works as a JEM lab technician and tirelessly promotes the club—which boasts about 100 members, both current students and alumni—through social media and student gatherings.

Beevers worked as an archaeologist and corporate consultant before enrolling in her first jewelry course in 2011.

“And that was it—it felt like coming home,” she said.

She put together the club, she says, because “it was something we really needed. Our department was growing so fast.”

The Cannery show features designs by B.F.A. and M.F.A. students ranging from $150 to $5,000, though many pieces, like Beevers’ Paper Necklace, are not for sale. The unconventional, wearable necklace features leaf-like layers created by the laser cutting technique Beevers employed on thick, textured paper she made by hand.

Through social media, she posts scholarship information, job and internship listings. And though the group only meets in person every month or two, Beevers keeps the members engaged online. In the future, she hopes to offer more student critiques and guest speakers at club gatherings.

“One of the challenges of starting something like this is to build something lasting, and I find that if the founder doesn’t give leadership to others at the right time, the momentum can die with them when it’s time for them to move on. My hope is that this organization continues long after I graduate,” Beevers said.

One of the obvious choices for a leadership successor is Azita Mireshghi, who is the club’s membership chair and one of the most active members. Like Beevers, she wants to increase awareness of JEM’s successes.

“Many people are not familiar with the kind of work that is done in a fine arts jewelry program, so getting exposure for students and immersing ourselves in the San Francisco community of jewelry artists should help us put ourselves and our work out there,” Mireshghi said.


Pleated Tiara2

‘Pleated Tiara’ by Azita Mireshghi. Courtesy of Azita Mireshghi.

Charlene Modena, director of the School of Jewelry and Metal Arts, was pleased with the turn-out of student work for the exhibit. No two pieces were even remotely alike.

“The diversity and quality of work in this show is a good representation of our program’s focus on teaching conceptual development combined with technical expertise as a means of presenting opportunities for unique personal expression,” Modena said.

Many of the works are not for the meek, including daring eyewear, headpieces and a pointed mouthpiece titled “Face Ornament.”

Mireshghi is displaying her own contrasting designs, including a stunning, Art Nouveau-esque floral metal Pleated Tiara, and a pair of contemporary, tribal-looking wrist cuffs and Courage Chest Plate. Like many in the JEM program, she’s more interested in creating bold, provocative works rather than cookie-cutter standard jewelry.

“I strive to create statement pieces that will invoke emotions such as strength, courage and perseverance to the adorner—or viewer,” she said.

Modena said The Cannery exhibit is a validation of the JEM Club members’ hard work.

“The JEM Club has played an important role in our program this year with students like Dale Beevers, Azita Mireshghi, Colleen Schwarz and Deanna Wardley offering vital opportunities to build camaraderie, develop professional readiness, and engage in an active exchange of ideas and dialogue around their coursework,” she said.

For more information, go to The exhibit runs through March 30 at The Cannery, 2801 Leavenworth Street, Suite 112. Gallery hours are Monday - Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.