Sharon Church is a studio jeweler and Professor Emerita, Craft + Material Studies, School of Art, The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her B.S. from Skidmore College in 1970 and earned her M.F.A. at The School for American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1973. Her work has been in exhibitions across the globe and her influence on contemporary jewelry is pervasive and persistent. Sharon has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Craftsman’s Fellowship Grant and has been twice selected for a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. She has received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, the Richard C. von Hess Faculty Award and two Venture Fund Awards from The University of the Arts. In 2008 she received The James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Educator Award. Her work is in the permanent collections of Yale University; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Museum of Arts and Design, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The National gallery of Australia; The Museum of Fine Arts Houston; The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art among others. She is considered one of the United States’ greatest treasures of contemporary jewelry.
Sharon Church has spent her creative life making studio jewelry and is perhaps best known for her carved jewelry forms. She carves forms inspired by nature – pods and flowers that have evolved from seed and a division of cells. They burst with life. Paradoxically, she works in materials that were once alive and now are dead: bone, horn and wood – they physically embody the life cycle. Her carved forms embody a symbolic language of growth and decay, death and renewal – timeless images that are at once tender and powerful.
Her jewelry seeks to embody shimmering beauty along with its dark, damp and mysterious underpinnings. It is adornment that girds the wearer, jewelry that empowers, enables and protects. On the body, both wearer and ornament combine to become a performance piece, creating an image that is fierce yet responsive