This detailed profile chronicles Luce Scholar Laura Marsolek’s multicultural journey to pursue her passion for jewelry design. Originally from rural Ortonville, Minnesota, Marsolek has used her education, fellowships, and travels abroad to become an astute art historian and skilled metalsmith in a number of traditional techniques from around the world. As a Luce Scholar from 2018–2019, she worked as a museum curator and researcher at Mehrangarh Museum Trust in Jodhpur, India and apprenticed with local goldsmiths during her spare time.
Studying the cultural and historical significance of jewelry adornment took her to places like Italy, Kosovo, and India, working alongside noted scholars and master artisans. But Laura Marsolek (Visual Arts 2009), forged the foundation for her studies in Ortonville, on the prairies of west-central Minnesota, and in the halls of Perpich.
The first exposure Marsolek had to the world of jewelry design and fabrication was at the Milan Village Arts School in nearby Milan, Minnesota, where she worked under the guidance of an experienced silversmith. “The process of making jewelry agreed with me,” she stated. “It was meticulous and detail-oriented.” As a teenager, Marsolek reached out to JoLee’s Jewelry store in Ortonville, hoping to work part-time. “I wanted to see if [JoLee’s] would be interested in having me as an employee.” To promote herself, Marsolek showed some of her works created at the Milan Village Arts School. “I did retail, helped people find gifts, sometimes I did jewelry repairs on broken pieces. It was a wonderful place to work.”