© Betty Cooke

Coming to NYC Jewelry Week next week: Victoria Pass, faculty member in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the Maryland Institute College of Art, will be in conversation with Shane Prada, Director of the Baltimore Jewelry Center, to discuss legendary jeweler Betty Cooke’s career and impact on Mid-Century design and Baltimore aesthetics, and her influence on contemporary jewelry.

We spoke with speaker Shane Prada about why she felt this program was important to bring to NYC Jewelry Week audience:

“Betty Cooke is the definition of an understated icon. Her impact on design and decor, whether on the body or in the home, is palpable in and around Baltimore and has been since she opened her original showroom on Tyson Street in 1946.
While most NYCJW patrons may be quite familiar with Betty’s exquisite jewelry, this talk will illuminate the lesser known elements of Betty’s 70-year career and how her legacy impacts today’s contemporary jewelry designers and makers.”

Shane Prada on the Style and Influence of Betty Cooke

During the talk, Pass will tell the story of Betty Cooke’s role as both a Mid-Century Modern designer and taste-maker. While Cooke is best known for designing and fabricating timeless and chic jewelry, she also played a key role introducing the local Baltimore community to innovative modern design first through her home on Tyson Street and then through her shop in the Cross Keys community. The Store Ltd. was one of the first shops in America selling Marimekko fashions, Le Creuset pots, Noguchi paper lamps, and even cardboard furniture designed by Frank Gehry. Pass will also talk about the working relationship Cooke had with others such as fashion designer Geoffrey Beane, and explore her role in the broader context of Mid-Century designers and design intermediaries.

© Betty Cooke

About the Speakers

Shane Prada

Shane Prada began her career working in education in 2004, first as a Teach For America corps member and then as a cofounder of one of the first charter schools in Baltimore city. In 2013, Shane co-founded the Baltimore Jewelry Center. In her role as director of the BJC, Shane oversees the administration and strategic planning of the organization, steers the educational programming, raises funds, manages the organization’s finances, and spearheads community outreach.

Victoria Pass

Victoria Rose Pass is an Associate Professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art and a specialist in Visual Culture, particularly in areas of design and fashion. Her research considers the history of fashion culture in the 20th century and focuses specifically on issues of gender and race. Her essay “Racial Masquerades in the Magazines: Defining White Femininity Between the Wars,” was recently published in the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies. She has co-edited two books, and her writing has also appeared in several publications.

© Betty Cooke

This program is part of a series inspired by Cooke and her artistic practice which accompanies the exhibition Betty Cooke: The Circle and the Line, curated by Jeannine Falino, on view at the Walters Art Museum from September 19, 2021–January 2, 2022. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication, edited by Jeannine Falino and published by the Walters Art Museum. Learn more about the Baltimore Jewelry Center here.

From Tyson Street to New York Fashion Week: The Style and Influence of Betty Cooke will take place Sunday, November 21, 2021 2:30 PM- 3:30 pm in the Graham Auditorium and will be livestreamed during New York City Jewelry Week. The event will be live streamed on YouTube, and RSVP is required to access the livestream. RSVP here. Remember to subscribe to NYCJW’s YouTube channel for access to all our content.

All images © Betty Cooke. Images provided by Shane Prada, courtesy of the Walters Art Museum Image Collection. Quote by Shane Prada. Feature edited and compiled by Future Heirloom Editor Jackie Andrews.