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Wallace Chan Surprises JEM Students

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(L–R) International artisan jeweler Wallace Chan, School of Jewelry & Metal Arts Director Charlene Modena and Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens. Photo by Maureen Brady.

Internationally renowned artisan jeweler Wallace Chan surprised Academy of Art University’s School of Jewelry & Metal Arts (JEM) with a visit on Nov. 7.  Chan’s exciting visit caught the students off guard as he casually approached the studio classrooms.

JEM students gathered around to ask questions and watched him as he demonstrated his specialized techniques. This inspiring privilege gave students a chance to meet a world famous jewelry artist that they had previously only seen in books and professional journals. During his visit at the Academy, Chan indicated that he would love to be a JEM guest speaker in the near future. Anticipation of his next visit amongst the student population is enormous.

Students, like JEM grad Derek Ximao Miao, have studied Chan’s work and find inspiration through his unique vision. Miao first learned of Chan “through jewelry magazines. Then in 2008, [he] went to the Hong Kong International Jewelry and Watch Exhibition, and [Chan’s] solo show was part of the exhibition.” At that time, Miao said he knew he would remember the work forever, never imagining he would meet Chan walking into a classroom at the Academy.

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Wallace Chan visits with JEM students during his surprise visit. Photo by Maureen Brady.

Known worldwide for his award-winning, innovative, intricate and unique sculpting, carving and stone setting, Chan started life in very humble beginnings, and is an inspiration to all who meet him. He grew up in Hong Kong and founded his workshop specializing in gemstone carving at age 17.

His career breakthrough occurred when the Capital Museum in Beijing, China, hosted Chan as the first jewelry artist featured in the museum’s solo exhibitions. He has also received critical acclaim for the “Wallace Cut,” a technique in which the carver creates a realistic image that reflects from within the gem, thus generating a 3-D effect. Chan incorporates his Zen philosophy into his work and continuously strives for innovation.