My name is Cathryn Jasterzbski and I recently completed my undergraduate degrees in Metal and Visual Arts Education from SUNY New Paltz. Between campus activism and philanthropic activities, I spent a great deal my college experience giving back to my local community. Here is where I found myself most inspired and excited to channel my passions for working with others and honing in on my creativity to help a cause in need.
As custom jeweler and educator, making wearable objects and sharing information about the importance of making purposeful objects has been at the forefront of my pedagogical identity. I had a professor at SUNY New Paltz once tell me not to make “chunks” in the world. She explained to us that as artists, we have a responsibility to use resources in a meaningful and efficient way and that we should take this role seriously as we move forward in our careers. Since this statement reached my ears, I have tried to translate efficiency and purposefulness throughout my work and lifestyle.
Throughout 2016, I spent my life teaching metal craft, making custom jewelry, and gaining perspective relating to life around the country. I traveled through parts of our great nation that had less than I could have imagined, and whose educational systems were almost not functioning at all. Deprived of basic educational funds, health education, and resources for developing female adolescents, I found myself wanting to utilize my knowledge and skill set to improve these circumstances.
Shortly after this, I arrived home and had been simultaneously planning on moving forward with more permanent contraception. With the world as it was, I had been recommended to do so before it was too late. Sure enough, my insurance company would not support my contraceptive needs and I was out of luck. I had shared this experience with the women in my life and with luck and kindness, I was able to get and IUD through a donation. It took a midwife who valued my needs and was disappointed in the systems we have in place for women’s health care to circumvent the system and support my needs. This display of kindness was incredible, and to thanks her I designed and made her a necklace that represented the spirit of a woman.
Utero, a line of pendants, earrings, brooches, was born from this experience. The shape of the female reproductive system inspired the design of each piece in this growing collection. The goal of this line is to create jewelry that becomes a symbol of female unity while providing the purpose of fundraising. This line of high-quality, handcrafted jewelry will serve to raise money for organizations that help to provide education for reproductive health and women's rights. In establishing this line of jewelry, I aim to highlight a woman’s instinct to nurture her fellow woman through this act of unity, support, education, and love. These pieces of jewelry exist to say, “I am woman,” “we are women,” “I support us and we support all.” So if you are a woman, mother, daughter, sister, or happened to be born from a woman, or support the growth of women’s rights and the ongoing development of human rights, please invest in a piece from the Utero collection so that we can support you.