Products and Design

From Craft to Art: The Journey of Art Jewelry Forum’s Rebekah Frank

At the age of 18, with a welding helmet in hand and ballet slippers in her bag, Rebekah Frank began a journey that would take her from welding to skilled blacksmithing to creative expression through handcrafted, conceptually rich jewelry. Today, Frank is the Executive Director of Art Jewelry Forum (AJF).

Photo: Mercedes Jelinek

AJF was founded in 1997 by Susan Cummins and a group of art jewelry enthusiasts. Art jewelry is a discipline that marries art and craft, forefronting creative expression — and often breaking with fine jewelry’s conventions. Susan and her group of artists, jewelers, and devotees were looking to create a space in which to appreciate, nurture, support, and grow the field of contemporary art jewelry. Today, AJF is the resounding voice in art jewelry around the world.

Frank’s road to AJF began when she was just out of high school. She began developing welding and blacksmithing skills through local courses at a California community college. Determined to find her place within the blacksmithing world, Frank moved to Texas to establish and develop her craft. While studying welding technology and blacksmithing in Texas, she began working on large commissioned architectural ironwork, furniture as well as sculpture. Over 10 years of working as a blacksmith and welder, Frank traveled the world through metalworking grants and apprenticeships.

Studio installation (Photo: Rebekah Frank)

With years of commissioned welding and blacksmithing work under her belt, she felt driven to pursue her own artistic inspirations. This meant flipping the switch and heading back to school in 2007. Frank went on to pursue an MFA in Studio Art and Metals from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

After Sol LeWitt brooch series, 2014, steel (Photo: Mercedes Jelenik)

For the first time, the skilled craftsperson was creating her own work and expressing herself through original art jewelry. Frank created beautifully minimal and utterly unique steel brooches and necklaces, each piece evoking the process of bending and forming metal. Through these explorations of her own creativity and the relationships formed in her final year of graduate school, Frank met the founder and acting Executive Director of Art Jewelry Forum, Susan Cummins. Their mutual passion for the art form, plus a love of organization and order, sparked a friendship — and ultimately landed her a role at AJF.

Untitled, Four Curves, Looped Chain, 2015, steel (Photo: Mercedes Jelenik)

Today, Frank runs the nonprofit out of her San Francisco office/studio. She continues to inspire the art jewelry world through her own work and leadership of AJF.

We’re excited to sponsor Art Jewelry Forum, supporting an artistic community that continues to lead the art jewelry dialog around the world. And we’re proud to be a part of the creative process for many art jewelers, including AJF board member Doug Bucci. Our special thanks to Rebekah for sharing her story.

Visit Art Jewelry Forum.

Learn more about Rebekah Frank and her work.


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