Mary Lee Hu
2023 Visionary Award Recipient
Known internationally as a masterful and passionate weaver of metal, Mary Lee Hu is described by ceramicist Patti Warashina, who received the Smithsonian Visionary Award in 2020, as being “in a class of her own” whose artistic talents have broadened and enriched the aesthetic of the field of contemporary studio jewelry”.
Beginning in her student days, Hu developed her own technique of using textile methods – looping, wrapping, weaving and most notably twining – to create graceful wearable forms, some representational and some abstract. She works almost exclusively in gold, and her work reflects a modern sensibility while including the powerful elements of rhythm, repetition and pattern that characterize much ancient and ethnic art.
Beyond making her jewelry, Mary Lee Hu has spent many years teaching contemporary art jewelry, primarily at the University of Washington, where she wrote a curriculum around the global history of body adornment. She is a past President of the Society of North American Goldsmiths and her work is found in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.