Alumni Profile: Theresa Cowan

July 7, 2015
Theresa Cowan in Chicago store

UW-FDL illuminated student's career path

By Evelyn McLean-Cowan

Attended UW-Fond du Lac, Fall 2006-Spring 2007

Completed BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2010

Business Owner and Jewelry Designer, Mineralogy; Chicago, Illinois

“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond,”
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
–Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason

There are moments of goal setting and decisions, as students embark on their educational pursuits and begin a journey that will culminate in a career choice. The unknown glimpses into the future can be daunting. However, with contemplation, the moments can be enlightening. The college years are an exciting time of self-discovery.

This Fond du Lac native always knew she would be an artist, but in what capacity remained a mystery as she explored mediums and possibilities. To Theresa Cowan, diamonds would become more than shining moments, but also an integral part of her work. 

Dedicated and inspirational art teachers in the Fond du Lac School District taught Cowan techniques that improved her drawing skills and opened opportunities for juried shows and scholarships. 

It was at UW-Fond du Lac where her artistic talents were polished under the direction of Art Professor John Scotello. “In addition to a very memorable art history class and learning invaluable painting skills from Professor Scotello, his knowledge and support as I prepared my portfolio for applications to art schools was outstanding,” said Cowan. “He and the staff at UW-Fond du Lac truly cared about my success.” 

Thrilled with acceptance, Cowan transferred from UW-Fond du Lac to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where she started in fashion design and then switched to illustration. A required science course challenged her to explore a medium she hadn’t ever considered: minerals and gems. 

creating jewelryTo fulfill requirements for the earth science course, Cowan melded science with art, as she began designing and making jewelry. 

Her creations were discovered at the SAIC annual fashion show, where a student from the fashion department accessorized her garments with Cowan’s jewelry. In addition to appreciating the fashion design at the show, boutique owners were impressed with the jewelry. 

With wholesale orders from storeowners coming in, Cowan launched her business Mineralogy. In addition to having her work in boutiques throughout the country, she set up shop on Etsy, an online platform for artists. She also began selling her limited edition jewelry at shows in Chicago and online via her website. 

In April 2011, after discovering her on Etsy, the Today Show contacted Cowan and featured her jewelry in a fashion segment on their national morning broadcast.

After a few years of shared studio space and then a home studio, Mineralogy has progressed to its next level with the opening of a studio/storefront at 1944 W. Montrose Avenue in Chicago, in June of 2015. 

Necklace by Theresa Cowan

“The decision to open a brick and mortar studio was a natural progression and a way to offer a comfortable space for my customers to view my work, shop, and discuss custom wedding and ceremony jewelry,” said Cowan. “It’s important for me that clients are able to be present in the space where their jewelry is being handmade and to meet the artist who hand fabricates every piece of jewelry and sets every diamond.” 

In addition to achieving her own artistic ambitions, Cowan is happy to be helping her clients’ dreams come true. “Custom work is wonderful because there are so many emotions and dreams of my clients that go into each piece of jewelry - I’m really encapsulating all of those feelings in a tangible form for them.” 

“Sometimes the best decisions you can ever make for yourself are when you are running fast with your heart wide open toward your goal.” Embrace those moments. They are diamonds. Cowan encourages students embarking on their college careers to do what they love, work hard, build relationships, and find good mentors.

Photo Credits:

Top two photos by Evelyn McLean-Cowan

Bottom right photo (necklace) by Theresa Cowan

Published 7-7-15

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