Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2013

Capstone Advisor

Professor Barbara Walter, Jewelry and Metalsmithing Program Coordinator

Honors Reader

Professor Lori Hawke

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Visual and Performing Arts

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

Art and Design | Fine Arts | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media


The representation of living organisms has a long history in jewelry. Since jewelry is intended to be worn on the body, it has the faculty to materialize what typically remains unseen below our skin. Creating this body of work aims to entice public curiosity and educate them in current stem cell research, as it is a promising avenue of medicine that could cure many diseases, rather than treat their symptoms.

The jewelry I made is a glimpse into the body revealing microscopic stem cells, which are essential to our existence. Current research has shown the potential for immense advancement in medicine using stem cells, the body’s natural repair system. Scientists are searching for ways to use stem cells to regenerate damaged and lost tissue and to develop personalized drug testing.

The painted cell pins reference images taken of stem cells induced to become heart muscle cells. I allude to their cultivation in vitro by framing them within a petri dish. The pins are worn directly over the heart, invoking thoughts of future strategies to grow heart cells on a base scaffolding for transplantation.

The blastocyst cross section pins show the glorification of the inner cell mass for either its pluripotent cells or potential to give rise to the entirety of the human embryo. By displaying the embryonic stem cells as pearls, their social value is made more evident. The hanging pearls reference their extraction and cultivation in a lab.

The variety of forms that my jewelry materializes in is an echo of the many potential medical applications of stem cells. Through placement in relation to the body and use of materials that hold cultural significance, I strive to evoke the larger context for the public that is not easily deduced from isolated microscopic photographs.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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