Sharon Church is a studio jeweler and professor of Crafts in the College of Art, Media & Design at the University of the Arts. She received her B.S. from Skidmore College in 1970 and earned her MFA at the School for American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1973. Before teaching at what was then the Philadelphia College of Art, she was a limited-production studio jeweler. As a practicing artist, she enjoys the rich exchange that characterizes the community of studio artists who currently reside in Philadelphia.
Sharon 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. Forged metal elements lend a different kind of life force to the work. The rhythmic pounding of the metal spreads life like a heartbeat into elements that support and structure the work. Together, the carved and forged 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, the work becomes spectacle. Both wearer and ornament combine to become a performance piece, creating an image that is fierce yet responsive.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pa.; The Museum of Arts and Design, New York City; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; the Samuel Dorsky Museum, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, N.Y.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Helen Williams Drutt Collection, Houston, Texas; the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wis.; the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Del.
Sharon has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Craftsman's Fellowship Grant; she was twice selected as a Finalist (Discipline Winner) 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.
The John Michael Kohler Art Center; the American Craft Museum; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, SOFA NY; and Helen Drutt: Philadelphia.