Mary Lee Hu

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Mary Lee Hu (born 1943 in Lakewood, Ohio) is an American artist, goldsmith, and college level educator known for using textile techniques to create intricate woven wire jewelry.


Hu first became fascinated with metalwork during high school introductory courses. She later explored more work with metals during a summer camp.[1] She went on to attend the University of Miami, Ohio for two years and then went to Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan to complete her undergraduate degree. During her undergraduate education Hu developed her skills and continued to work with small scale metalwork and jewelry. In 1966 while earning her graduate degree in Metalsmithing from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, Hu studied under renowned metalsmith L. Brent Kington. It was during this time that Hu started to work with fiber inspired techniques after taking a fiber arts course.[2] This led to the development of her signature style of wire wrapped jewelry. Since the late 1960s Hu has developed new techniques in coiling, wrapping, weaving, knitting, and twining wire. Her work consists mostly woven wire earrings, rings, bracelets, brooches, and neckpieces that emulate natural forms, movements and symmetry.[3]

After completing her MFA, Hu traveled to various places and took up different teaching positions until she joined the metal arts program in the University of Washington School of Art in 1980. She retired from the University as professor emeritus in 2006.[4]

Hu is a member and past-president of the Society of North American Goldsmiths. In 1996 Hu was inducted into the American Craft Council College of Fellows.[5] Hu has received three National Endowment of the Arts Craftsman Fellowships. Her work is in major collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Renwick Gallery, the American Crafts Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. Hu is the winner of the 2008 Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.[6]



Awards and grants[edit]

  • 1999: Elected “Master of the Medium” for the James C. Renwick Alliance, the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian, Washington, DC
  • 1975: Best in Show, Best in Metals, Outstanding Craftsman of the North Central Region, Purchase Award, "Beaux Arts Designer/Craftsman '75", Columbus Museum of Fine Arts, Columbus, OH

Public collections[edit]


  • 2004

“The Art of Gold” The Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR The Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Anchorage, AK “Korean & American Metalsmithing Exhibition”, Kepco Plaza Gallery, Seoul, Korea.

  • 2003

“The Art of Gold” organized by the Society of North American Goldsmiths and tours by Exhibits USA Crocker Art Museum

  • 2002

Summer Arts Festival Mirabela Arts Exhibit, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, University of Washington

“Exuberance”, Facere Jewelry Art Gallery, Seattle (with Kevin Glenn Crane)

  • 2001

"Flet/Braid", Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, Denmark

  • 2000

“Curves Revisited”, Susan Cummins Gallery, Mill Valley, CA

  • 1997

“Celebrating American Craft”, Kunstindustrie Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

  • 1994

"Mary Lee Hu: Master Metalsmith", National Ornamental Metal Museum, Memphis, TN

  • 1993

"Documents Northwest: 6 Northwest Jewelers" Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA

  • 1993-96

"Sculptural Concerns: Contemporary American Metalworking",Fort Wayne Museum of Art,national tour

  • 1992

"Design Visions, The Second Australian International Crafts Triennial". Art Gallery of Western Australia

"Helen Williams Drutt Collection", Helsinki, Finland

  • 1991

"The 20th Anniversary Show", Electrum Gallery, London, England

  • 1989

"Mary Lee Hu: Goldsmith", The Merrin Gallery, New York, NY

  • 1989-93

"Craft Today USA", Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY and European Tour

  • 1988

Concepts Gallery, Carmel and Palo Alto, CA

"Korean-American Contemporary Metalwork Exhibition 1988", Walker Hill Art Center, Seoul, Korea

  • 1987-90

"The Eloquent Object", organized by The Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK, US and Japan tour

  • 1986-88

"Craft Today, Poetry of the Physical", Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY, national tour

  • 1985-87

“American Jewelry NOW", Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY, Asia tour

  • 1985

"Barbara Rockefeller Associates Collection", Anatole Orient Gallery, London, England

"Masterworks of Contemporary American Jewelry: Sources and Concepts", The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

"International Jewelry Invitational", Rudolf Dentler Gallery, Ulm, Germany

  • 1984

The Hand and the Spirit Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ

  • 1984-85

"Jewelry USA", organized by the Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY, national tour

  • 1983

University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA

Invitational of American Jewelry, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Traditional Industry, Kyoto

  • 1982

Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN

  • 1981-85

"Good as Gold: Alternative Materials in American Jewelry", Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian, Washington, DC, national tour

  • 1981

University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND

"Tenth anniversary Exhibition", Electrum Gallery, London, England

"The Golden Thread-Textures in Gold", Touring International Competition

  • 1980

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA

"International Jewellery 1900-1980", Kunslerhaus, Vienna

  • 1979

"Fourth International Jewellery Art Exhibition", Jewellery Designers Association, Mikimoto, Tokyo

  • 1979-81

"Society of North American Goldsmiths", by Society of North American Goldsmiths national tour

  • 1979

Eastern Kentucky University Gallery, Richmond, KY

  • 1978-82

"Silver in American Life", Yale University Art Gallery

  • 1978

"Modern American Jewelry Exhibition", Mikimoto & Co., Tokyo

"American Crafts at the Vatican Museum", Vatican City

Goldsmith Hall, London (with Harper, Scherr, Seppa)

  • 1977

Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH

Illinois State University, Normal, IL

“Creative Jewelry”, Design Center, Manila, Philippines

  • 1976

University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI

"6 Contemporary American Jewellers", Electrum Gallery, London

  • 1975-76

"Forms in Metal-275 Years of Metalsmithing in America",[[ Museum of Contemporary Crafts]], New York, NY

  • 1975

"Contemporary Crafts of the Americas: 1975", Competitive exhibition, Colorado State University national tour

“Beaux Arts designer/Craftsmen ‘75”, Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Columbus, OH.

  • 1974

University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

  • 1974-77

“Goldsmith/74”, by the Renwick Gallery and the Minnesota Museum of Art.

  • 1974

"World Silver Fair", International competition, Taxco and Mexico City, Mexico

“Profile 1974”, Humber College, Rexdale, Ontario, Canada

  • 1970-72

“Goldsmith ‘70”, Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, MN

  • 1969

"Young Americans '69", Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY

  • 1967

Crafts Alliance Gallery, St. Louis, MO


  1. ^ "Biography: Mary Lee Hu". Temple University. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Shaykett, Jessica (April–May 2012). "Mary Lee Hu: Cutting Loose". American Craft 72 (2). Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Catalani], [foreword by Stefano (2012). Knitted, knotted, twisted, & twined : the jewelry of Mary Lee Hu. Bellevue, WA: Bellevue Arts Museum. ISBN 978-0615561561. 
  4. ^ Huynh, Anh (April 24, 2012). "Entwined in Art". The Daily of the University of Washington. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "American Craft Council College of Fellows". American Craft Council. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Mary Lee Hu". Craft in America. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 

External links[edit]