Mesa Arts Center instructors are professional artists and experienced educators offering a wide variety of topics throughout the year.
Metals and Jewelry Instructors
Polly Smith- Jewelry and Metals Lead Instructor
Polly Smith directs the programs for the Metalsmithing and Jewelry Studios and the Sculpture Studio. She has a BFA, emphasis in Metalsmithing from Arizona State University and an MFA, emphasis in Metalsmithing and Sculpture from New Mexico State University. Her work is an examination of the tensions present at the intersection of human creation (society) and the body (nature).
Learn more about Polly at her website: https://polly-odette.squarespace.com/.
Jewel Clark- Resident Artist
The event which sparked my love for metals and jewelry making was a singular one. I was a teenager and had the privilege of seeing the jewelry of Rene Lalique in person in a small show at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. It was the first time I had seen high art with psychological impact that was functional and impeccably made as well as drop dead gorgeous. I was immediately enthralled and from that moment on I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
I’ve been very fortunate to be able to work in metals and teach metals most of my adult life. I love the many aspects of metalworking: design and function, problem-solving, technical skill, creativity and the creation of something beautiful and meaningful. My main focus in metals has always been jewelry. I love the intimate scale and the preciousness and beauty of the materials. You usually have to go to a museum or someone’s home to see art but with jewelry, it is presented to the world every time someone wears it out their door. I love that.
You can read more about me and see my work at my website: www.jewelclark.com.
Samuell Troxell- Resident Artist
“Determination has been the driving force in my life and is a favored aspect in my art. Challenges brought around by conceptual conflicts, exhibition competitions, and expanding my knowledge of metalsmithing have been proof of my determination. This force has caused my art to be various yet traditional, and is often inspired by nature for it demonstrates such force.
Metal has never disappointed me and is a constant challenge do to its nature. Metal by nature is tough and resilient and only by understanding its nature can I learn to work with it, not against it. My art is a testament to this knowledge and is both a marker of progression as a person and a guide to my future.”
Learn more about Sam at his website: www.talonforge.com.
Victoria Altpeter- Resident Artist
Bio coming shortly.
Ashley Weber- Resident Artist
“I have tangled roots of east coast tides and southwest summits and the beauty of those places and the small treasures of the pieces which create them have me ever hunting for inspiration. I grew up in the shop of a man who honored his tools as if they were art. I was influenced by the the beautiful maker hands of both my Grandmother and Grandfather since before I can even remember. Being a maker is who I am. Finding a life through the work of heart and hand never felt like an option, but in the end, it chose me. This endeavor to hone my craft has tested me, broken me, and polished me time and time again, yet I’ve never walked away. That’s how I know that I’m exactly where I should be… Trying to tell my story through forged metal and tidbits of our beautiful world, ever collecting new skills, ever shifting, and ever searching for other souls who just might understand.”
Learn more about Ashley at her website: www.ashleyweber.com.
Terri Jo Kinnison- Instructor
“Most of us are collectors. We find some thing we want to acquire; we enjoy learning about and sharing with friends. This collecting habit is certainly true for me. For as long as I can remember I’ve collected decorative, functional tools, as well as art glass and decorative metal objects. But, mostly I collect information and the hand skills of how tools are used and how glass and metal objects are created. These skills and their creations are what I enjoy sharing with others.
Most of my pieces tend to reflect the simpler designs of the Arts & Crafts style or the geometrics of Art Deco. Surface textures are of great interest, especially when they help to show the handmade nature of a piece. The materials used are chosen for their working characteristics and aesthetic value more than for their perceived preciousness. I tend to favor traditional or rarely used older techniques. But like artisans of the past, new technologies that allow for safer or more predictable outcomes are welcomed.
Each piece is hand made, in a small studio, where the hammering is sometimes answered by the woodpecker that insists on trying to nest in the outside wall. Most of my pieces are created using specialty techniques I have recently learned, or those that have held my interest over time. Currently my interests are focused on creating surface textures and patterns on metals; especially the creation of engraved geometric patterns (engine turning or guilloche) using a 1900’s era mechanical engraver called a straight-line engine. Enamels or unusual stones are sometimes added for color or to highlight a surface texture. My goal is to create decorative adornments for people and the places they live and work.”
Bob Michalski- Instructor
Bob Michalski was the Art Department Chair and Jewelry Instructor at Marshfield High School, Marshfield, WI for 32 years.
He received his BFA in 1974 from UW-Stout, Menomonie, WI, with an emphasis in Ceramics and Sculpture. In 1973 he received a fellowship to study Sculpture at New Castle Upon-Tyne Polytechnic, New Castle, England. Bob has done postgraduate work at UW-Madison, Madison,WI, U of M, Minneapolis, MN, Colorado Mountain College, Minturn, Colorado. His awards include: 1999- Program Standards Award from the National Art Education; 2003- Award of Excellence from the School District of Marshfield, WI; 2005- Crystal Apple Award from the city of Marshfield, WI for excellence in education; 2006- Herb Kohl Educational Fellowship Award (sponsored by US Senator Herb Kohl). Bob has continued to take classes and further his artistic development with such artist/ instructors as: Kevin O’Dwyer, David Huang, Michael Sturlin, Polly Smith, Jamie Bennett, Eleanor Moty and J. Fred Woell. His aesthetic design is influenced by the Art Nouveau style and his technical focus is on fabrication and lost wax casting with an emphasis on textural exploration in both.
In 2007 Bob relocated to Gilbert, AZ where he continues to design and create jewelry. He also teaches Jewelry Classes at Mesa Art Center, Mesa, AZ.
Bob Bortfeld- Instructor
Bob is lapidary instructor at the Mesa Arts Center. He studied under Doug Duffy at the Arizona Mining and Minerals Museum and has been shaping stones of every type for many years for jewelers.