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.

Rago/Wright is privileged to participate in this exceptional event, celebrating these extraordinary artists and supporting one of our nation’s most important cultural institutions.

The Smithsonian Women's Committee Visionary Benefit Auction

Works Sold to Benefit The Smithsonian Institution

Wright is pleased to include The Smithsonian Women’s Committee Visionary Benefit Auction within our Art & Design sale on April 21st. This special section features works created by past and present Smithsonian Visionary Artists and by the winners of the new Smithsonian Women’s Committee Delphi Award. 

The Smithsonian Visionary Award, established in 2014, is presented annually to artists who are deemed by curators in the field to have risen to the pinnacle in the world of sculptural arts and design, who have works in major museums, and who have demonstrated distinction, creativity, artistry, and, of course, vision in his or her respective medium.  

This extraordinary event features works by current and past recipients of the Visionary Award including Mary Lee Hu, Chunghi Choo, David Ellsworth, Michael Hurwitz, Patti Warashina, Toots Zynsky, Wendell Castle, and Albert Paley.

The Delphi Award was created in 2020 and is presented annually to one or more mid-career artists who demonstrate distinction, creativity, and exceptional artistry in their work, and who are predicted by experts in the field to reach the pinnacle of sculptural arts and design. Roberto Lugo was one of the initial recipients of the Delphi Award in 2021.  


All lots in the Visionary Benefit Auction are of the primary market, unless otherwise indicated. The auction raises funds to support projects and initiatives across the Smithsonian institution. All works will be shipped directly from the artist or the gallery.