The humble onion is typically relegated to side dish status, but for Corrina Goutos, the bulb is appropriate for nothing less than high fashion.
The Guilderland High School graduate recently received an award for her conceptual jewelry piece “Lim(b)itless” at the 24th Annual NICHE Awards, which is held by NICHE magazine. Goutos, now a senior at Savannah College of Art and Design, drew inspiration for her large brooch from advancements in medical technology allowing for doctors to explore growing limbs in a Petri dish.
To start her brooch, she turned to a natural material most people throw away.
“I took tons of onions skins from my grocery store,” Goutos said.
Goutos remembered looking at onion skins under a microscope in school and thought they resembled skin cells. Her creation also used laser-cut resin, papyrus, vellum, steel and copper. She made the jewelry more than two years ago, but entered it in this year in NICHE’s contest.
“At that time it was extremely challenging to make, and to have it be such a success was really exciting,” she said.
Even at a young age, Goutos was recognized for her artistic talents. Goutos, an Altamont native, received an award from an area museum in first grade for a clay sculpture she did in school. Her teacher entered the piece for her, and it was featured in a traveling exhibit of student artwork.
“That just meant so much to me,” she said.
Being recognized at a young age also led her to major in jewelry and objects. Receiving encouragement from her elementary teachers and parents had a big impact on her decision to follow her passion.
“I really think that is a big reason for why I am where I am today,” she said. “I was always down this path. I wanted to be a jewelry major long before I came to school.”
Goutos’ “Lim(b)itless” was among 40 pieces of artwork selected for top honors out of 1,000 submissions from professionals and student artists. Judges evaluated entries for technical excellence in surface design and form and for originality and creativity. Contest winners were announced at the Feb. 16 Buyers Market of American Craft, which is a wholesale art trade show held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
The awards program was created to recognize excellence and innovation in American and Canadian fine crafts.
Goutos received the award only four days after capturing two other awards for her work. As graduation looms, she is leaning towards applying to graduate school but might take a year off to get experience in the field.
“I have been just toiling away for four years here and you don’t usually get recognition,” she said. “Eventually, I want to open my own business and sell jewelry to the public at prestigious fine craft shows in New York City.”
She likes exploring materials other than precious metals when making jewelry, because other materials can be just as good and adds variety to her work. Her choice is also ethically based.
“I just felt a guilt,” she said. “The amount of gold it takes to make one wedding band, the mining process creates 20 tons of waste.”
To create one piece, she used plastic beads bought from a craft store and then melted them, creating a lava-like result.
“Nobody recognizes what they are,” she said. “It was a cool way to disguise something so basic and take it to the next level.”
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