Jewelry showroom For Future Reference announced on Thursday the creation of an endowment with New York City-based jewelry designer Brent Neale Winston. Named the Art Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund, in honor of the late Afro-Caribbean jewelry designer Arthur George “Art” Smith, it will give opportunities, such as ongoing scholarships and mentorship programs, to the next generation of Black designers studying jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
For Future Reference and Brent Neale Winston raised $50,000 from 50 jewelry brands — including Retrouveí, Zoë Chicco, Anita Ko, MATEO, and more — to start the fund, whose goal is to better diversify the jewelry industry, where people of color have been historically underrepresented. “Our goal is to turn that statistic around — with your help — one student at a time,” the Art Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund website reads.
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The outpouring of support we’ve gotten so far for the Art Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund has been incredible, and we hope it’s just getting started! We want to reiterate that this is an open endowment — not just a single scholarship — and ANYONE is welcome to become a donor to make sure that black students will always have access to this initiative at @fitnyc. The more people who get involved, the better! More dollars means more scholarships. ⠀ ⠀ As a side-note, the scholarship fund has the blessing and support of Charles Russell, Art’s longtime partner, as well as that of Mark McDonald who runs Art’s estate. Both were contacted early on in the process. To read more about Art’s life and legacy, please click on the link in our bio. ⠀ ⠀ Thank you to everyone who has spread the word and donated. While we’re excited to be a part of the #artsmithscholarship, this is not about us — it’s about the future jewelry designers whose work we can’t wait to admire.
“We specifically created an endowment, not a scholarship, because we wanted to invest in a long-term contribution to an issue that needs more than a Band-Aid,” Randi Molofsky, the co-founder of For Future Reference, wrote in an email to Refinery29 on Monday. “This money will grow and reinvest and anyone can continue contributing to it, and we hope that students will benefit for years to come. But it’s certainly not a solution — we see it as a step in the right direction.”
For more information, students can reach out directly to Molofsky at [email protected] “The scholarship will be officially on the FIT Office of Financial Aid website in about a week or two,” he says. “It’s slated for Fall 2020-Spring ’21. Interested students should contact the FIT Office of Financial Aid for more information about this scholarship or any others available.” Molofsky can also provide insight on how to contribute to the endowment. “It’s a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and every dollar that goes in makes a difference,” he wrote.
The late Art Smith was known for his use of mid-century modern design techniques. Inspired by classic African motifs and surrealism, as well as biomorphism and primitivism, the Cuban-born Jamaican artist created wearable sculptures meant to move with the wearer. Smith is often considered the first commercially successful Black jewelry designer in the U.S.
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