Fine arts professor merges high-tech with her traditional jewelry creations

When Nicole Jacquard shared details about her work featured in the latest jewelry issue of American Craft — one of the nation’s oldest magazines dedicated to craft — I was astonished to see what appeared to be a high-tech QR code on the back of a brooch with tiny pearls surrounding a vintage photograph.

Jacquard's artwork

Snail Shell Harbor, 2011, Nicole Jacquard. Silver, gypsum powder, pearls, peridot.

Turns out, Jacquard loves to merge her traditional metalsmithing skills with technology. In fact, American Craft said, her work “celebrates contradictions.”

A native Bloomingtonian, Jacquard first studied under a teacher at Bloomington High School North who’d learned from metalsmithing pioneer Alma Eikerman, and then studied under professor Randy Long, who took over the metals department at Indiana University in 1983.

“I’m very traditionally trained in historical gold and silversmithing techniques,” Jacquard said. “But with my work now, I enjoy focusing on computer-aided design and different types of interactivity. So this brooch, for example, if you scan that QR code, it takes you to a map where the photo was taken. I’ve been incorporating computer-aided design into my studio practice, as well as programming in 3-D and using materials like plastics, resin and metals.”

Jacquard said she never dreamed she’d have the chance to return home to work at Indiana University. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from IU, she has an MFA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, which she completed while on a Fulbright Scholarship there in 1995. She then returned to RMIT University in 2004 to complete a Ph.D. in fine arts.

Nicole Jacquard

Nicole Jacquard

“To be back in Bloomington is pretty amazing, not just because it’s a small field where jobs are few and far between,” she said. “The caliber of people here are so diverse and there’s such a collaborative community of people wanting to share, grow, develop and try new things. And the support from the university is unprecedented.”

That support is exemplified through her recent work as part of a group lobbying for a fabrication laboratory — or “Fab Lab” — on the Bloomington campus.

“It would be a space everyone could use, that different departments would have access to,” she said. “It would facilitate 3-D printing, but there might be assistance for programming and a place for brainstorming, where people could collaborate across disciplines. So many people are interested, including people in chemistry, biology, education, interior design, museums, informatics and computer science, as well as physics. The possibilities are limitless.”

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