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From inspiration to adornment: NMSU students finish third in Yuma Art Symposium challenge

You might not think that pin exchanges, pool parties and timed ring-making challenges sound like the typical environment for students to learn about their major, but that?s exactly what a group of New Mexico State University art students experienced when they participated in the Yuma Art Symposium in Yuma, Ariz., Feb. 20-22.

The team?s Yuma Symposium third-place trophies were made by other artists who participated in the event. (Photo by Isabel Rodriguez)

Students compare off their winning ring (left, ring finger) with Professor Furuhashi?s (right). (Courtesy photo)

NMSU students garnered more than 40 pins during the Pin Swap at the Yuma Art Symposium. The pins are now on display inside Williams Hall. (Photo by Isabel Rodriguez)

The jewelry and metalsmithing students scored third place in the National Saw, File and Solder Sprints, a challenge during which groups compete against each other to craft a ring out of raw materials in as little time as possible. Outperforming teams of professors (including their own professor, Motoko Furuhashi, on a rival team), graduate students and undergrads from other universities, the group fashioned the ring out of copper in 3 minutes, 32 seconds.

?The whole idea of the competition is very opposite of what jewelry making is,? said Collin Kennon, junior art major. ?It?s very rough and we?re supposed to make polished, clean stuff.?

As its name implies, the competition involved three tasks, with one person responsible for each: Sephra Reyes, junior art major, sawed the ring out of the rectangular piece of copper; Kennon filed and formed the ring; and finally, Jolene Castanon, graduate art student, soldered it. The students competed head-to-head with another team and were then ranked against all the others. Groups that took longer than 6 minutes were disqualified.

When it was finished, the ring?s seam was inspected to ensure it wouldn?t easily come undone. The rules stated that it fit at least one team member. Winners were awarded trophies made by other artists.

It was the students? first time attending the symposium, which they were introduced to by Furuhashi, assistant professor of arts in the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences. She first participated in the event as an undergraduate while earning her bachelor?s degree in studio art from Humboldt State University.

The symposium consists of demonstrations, lectures and presentations given by emerging artists. Participants also have the opportunity to network with fellow artists in events such as the Pin Swap, during which artists exchange pins they?ve created. Furuhashi and the students collected more than 60 pins and traded their own laser-engraved handmade brooches in the shape of draw tongs with ?NMSU Metals? printed on them.

There was also a pin auction to help raise money for next year?s symposium. The event was sponsored by the city of Yuma, the Yuma Arts Center and the Yuma Arts and Culture Commission, along with several co-sponsors.

?It was all in good fun,? Castanon said of the symposium. ?The way we all see metals is so different. The challenge was about getting down to the bare bones of each of our skills.?

Furuhashi and her students will be hosting an open house from 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 25. The public is invited to attend and learn more about the program. There will also be an exhibition by current students, with pieces by the students available for purchase. Part of the proceeds will go toward attending next year?s Yuma Symposium.

?It was very inspiring,? Furuhashi said, describing the event. ?It?s a great community and everyone was very welcoming. We?ll go again next year. It was worth it.?

For more information about the department visit https://www.facebook.com/NMSUmetals.