The late Mary Ann Scherr (right) and Laura Wyker (left) at the NC State Craft Center | Photo courtesy of NC State Technician

Legacy of a Jewelry Maker

In Do, February 2020 by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Titanium Grapes Necklace. Anodized titanium. From the collection of Christina Trevino | Photo by Jason Dowdle
Titanium Grapes Necklace. Anodized titanium. From the collection of Christina Trevino | Photo by Jason Dowdle

Throughout her life, Raleighite Mary Ann Scherr wore many creative hats. Before she died in 2016 at age 94, Scherr worked as a cartographer, illustrator, industrial designer, fashion designer, graphic designer and jewelry artist during the course of a career that spanned seven decades. But her unique, intricately crafted metal jewelry designs are what Scherr is perhaps best known for and what will continue to be her legacy. Scherr studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art, the University of Akron and Kent State University before landing her first job at Goodyear Aircraft Corporation and, later, at Ford Motor Company and the Aluminum Company of America. At the Aluminum Company, Scherr was commissioned to design a collection of stainless steel jewelry, which set the tone for the industrial-style pieces that would become her signature—a gilt metal collar necklace, a sterling silver bracelet with textured patina and a brown glass and sterling silver necklace, to name just a few of Scherr’s iconic pieces.

In 1986, Scherr moved to Raleigh to open a gallery and studio while continuing to teach courses at the Penland School of Crafts in Bakersville, North Carolina, where she worked as a seasonal professor since 1968. Scherr also taught jewelry making classes at NC State’s Crafts Center and served on the board of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design and the Raleigh Fine Arts Society. Beginning February 20, Scherr’s work will be on display at the Gregg in an exhibition curated by jewelry historian Ana Estrades. Collaborating with locals who knew and worked with Scherr, Estrades and her team will showcase the artist’s finest and most unique pieces.

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