UPDATED: September 25, 2013

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The recipient of this year's Lawrence ArtWalk Featured Artist Award, which was voted on by her  fellow ArtWalk artists, is metalsmith artist Gina Westergard.

Gina Westergard is currently an Associate Professor of Metalsmithing and Jewelry at the University of Kansas. She has exhibited her work worldwide for over 25 years; and her creative work has been recognized with many prestigious awards and grants, and with profiles in arts magazines.

The artist's work

Westergard's current body of work is comprised of funerary urns and reliquaries, which are functional objects that have great significance to her. She says, "Death, which concludes all life, is a complex, often difficult subject to address. Its poignancy and mystery touch all. I strive to make contemplative vessels that celebrate a life that has passed and shelters an energy that continues."

Her works are exquisitely crafted. They are also meticulously designed, and evoke joy through their rich surfaces and vibrant colors. She says, "The minimal, stately exterior of each piece gradually leads to more detailed and recessed interior space. Nestled within the interior of each object is an element that awaits discovery, representing new growth, renewal and an energy that continues."

Westergard's designs are inspired by the cycles of nature that symbolize the passage of time and that she has experienced intimately on daily walks through the wooded flood plains and across the rolling, open fields of her rural Kansas farmland. The land's rhythms of inevitable change have created profound changes in her understanding of life and death; they have also greatly influenced the development of her work as a metalsmith.

The artist's accolades

Westergard's work has been exhibited nationally in such venues as The California Crafts Museum, San Francisco, CA; The National Ornamental Metals Museum, Memphis, TN; and Fortunoff, New York, NY; and internationally in the Ostholstein Museum, Eutin, Germany and the Tap Gallery, Sydney, Australia.

Awards and grants include a Mid-American Art Alliance/NEA Fellowship; a Juror's Award from the 18th Annual Materials Hard and Soft Exhibition, Meadows Gallery, Center for the Visual Arts, Denton, TX; a Juror's Award from the Precious Metals Exhibition, Galleria Mesa, Mesa, AZ; and three General Research Fund and four Hallmark Enhancement grants from the University of Kansas.

Westergard's work has been reviewed in Metalsmith magazine between 1994-2000 and profiled in American Craft magazine's Portfolio Review, April/May 1997; as well as appearing in 500 Vessels, Contemporary Explorations of Containment, published by Lark Books, in 2007.

Lawrence ArtWalk 2013

The Lawrence ArtWalk Featured Artist Award, which is now in its ninth year, comprises a cash honorarium and the artistís artwork featured on Lawrence ArtWalk 2013 promotional materials.

More of Westergard's work may be seen on her Lawrence ArtWalk 2013 artist's page.

Congratulations, Gina!