Course of Action: 50 Years of Jewelry and Enamel at the Glassell School of Art

May 9, 2015 — August 29, 2015
In the Artist Hall

Opening Reception
Friday, May 29, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
The evening will also feature the opening of Ceramics in the Environment in the Craft Garden, and open studios by HCCC’s current resident artists.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is pleased to present Course of Action: 50 Years of Jewelry and Enamel at the Glassell School of Art, an exhibition that celebrates the outstanding Jewelry and Enamel program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s (MFAH) Glassell School of Art. For five decades, the program has provided a place for students of all skill levels and backgrounds to flourish, and it now offers a full curriculum of classes in metalsmithing, enameling, and digital technology. Curated by Glassell faculty members, Nathan Dube, Jan Harrell, and Sandie Zilker, the show chronicles the history of the program, acknowledging former instructors, Mary Lorena Brown, William Steffy, and Mary Ann Papanek-Miller, as well as others who have been influential in its development. Displaying jewelry objects and enamel works by current students, former and current faculty, and alumni, the collection showcases an exceptional level of talent.

The Glassell School of Art includes the Junior School for young people ages 3 – 18; the Studio School for adults; and the Core Program, which offers postgraduate residencies. Since 1965, the Jewelry and Enamel program has evolved with the school, taking up residence in several different buildings. Formerly known as the Museum School, the Glassell School’s first jewelry course was held inside the basement of the MFAH. In 1971, the program moved to the former Jett’s Grocery site and then to a former insurance building on Garrott Street in 1973. Six years later, the program migrated to the Studio School’s current building, at 5101 Montrose Boulevard, and the school adopted its present name, the Glassell School of Art.

After 36 years, the Studio School will say goodbye to its current glass-block building. In the fall of 2015, it will temporarily relocate to the former Nabisco building near the Texas Medical Center and, in late 2017, will return to the MFAH campus in a building designed by Stephen Holl Architects.

The new space, with its updated and expanded facilities, will give the Glassell School of Art a dynamic presence in Houston’s art community, allowing the Jewelry and Enamel program to continue to thrive.

For more information on the MFAH Glassell School of Art, visit

About the Curators

Nathan Dube is a metalsmith whose work explores his interest in childhood and play by exploring the relationships among humor, aggression, and masculinity and how contemporary adult-male identity is constructed in American culture. Originally from Austin, Texas, Dube grew up outside of Houston. He holds a MFA from Kent State University and a BFA from the University of Texas, Austin. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including a solo show at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. He currently teaches at the MFAH Glassell School of Art and at Houston Community College.

Jan Arthur Harrell has been working with enamel for over 35 years. She received her BFA in jewelry and enamel from Texas Tech University. After raising her family, she resumed her studies at the University of Houston, where she received her MFA in sculpture in 2007. For the last 25 years, she has been the enameling instructor at the MFAH Glassell School of Art. Harrell exhibits jewelry and small-object work nationally and internationally and is the recipient of numerous awards. Her work is included in several books on enameling and metalsmithing.

With 41 years of experience teaching at the MFAH Glassell School of Art, Sandie Zilker is currently head of the Jewelry and Enamel Department and the Three-Dimensional Design Department. She also serves as the Glassell School’s coordinator of student events and exhibitions. Zilker holds a BFA in design and metalsmithing from the University of Houston and an MFA in metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, published in numerous books, and is included in national and international collections. She has served on the Board of The Society of North American Goldsmiths twice, co-chairing the annual conference in 2010. In 2014, she received the Texas Master award from Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Above: (1) View of the Glassell School of Art from the MFAH Sculpture Garden. Image courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. (2) Melanie Hoo, “Diffuser,” 2007. Sterling silver, teak wood. Photo by Ralph Smith. (3) Barbara Kile, “Necklace,” 2001. Felt, sterling silver. Photo by Jack Zilker. (4) William Luft, “Islands in the Sun.” Enamel on copper, mounted on textured painted wood. Photo by Larry Larrinaga. (5) Silvia Otaola, “Nichi (La luce che m’illumina),” 2008. Sterling silver. Photo by Jack Zilker. (6) Jo M. Preston, “G H2,” 2013. Sterling silver. Photo by Teresa Rubino. (7) Mariana Sammartino, “Brooch.” Stainless-steel mesh, 18k gold, sterling silver. Photo by the artist. (8) Debbie Wetmore, “Butterfly Necklace,” 2005. Sterling silver, enamel, found materials. Photo by Robert Diamonte.