By Cathie M. Mayne (P ’08, ’10)
Randolph alumna Mary Kathryn Martinson’s artistic talent just comes naturally.
“My grandmothers are artists,” she smiles. “They both sew and I grew up creating with them. My dad’s mom had a background in jewelry design and I would go to gem and mineral shows with her.“
She also credits Randolph’s supportive teachers for helping further her artistic passion, which led her to creating her jewelry firm, Mary Kathryn Design. “I wasn’t the academically strongest student, but my teachers helped arrange my curriculum to help me learn. I think I had nine art credits at graduation and, going into art school, that was a lot more than some of my classmates. Randolph has such a strong art program!”
What does she value most about her time at Randolph? “Learning to build relationships,” she affirms. “Learning about different people and finding common ground, especially with art. Making connections is important for a career, and Randolph is definitely a cultural melting pot. That helped when I went to college. Savannah School of Art and Design (SCAD) is 30% international students so my peers were from all over the world. The Randolph experience prepares us to interact with others from different backgrounds.”
While her degree from SCAD is in graphic design, she’s followed her passion by focusing on creating unique jewelry. Mary Kathryn now lives in Nashville and works out of her studio apartment. “My supportive artistic community in Nashville is primarily women bloggers. They are all fashion and lifestyle bloggers so I fit in with them from the jewelry side. They use my pieces in their photoshoots.”
With a busy schedule of private home shows, sorority trunk shows, and creating wholesale stock for 20 stores and boutiques, Mary Kathryn firmly believes in staying balanced.
“I would encourage students to work toward a goal. There will be lots of challenges, but just keep working! And, while working hard is very important, it’s also important to know when to stop working and do something for yourself – whether it be something social or reading a book or making something.”
Replenishing ideas and doing research is also important. “Everything is research – movies, Pinterest, going to galleries. I find inspiration in anything. I like to know a little bit of everything.”
She uses finds from antique stores and repurposes objects. “Most of my favorite pieces I keep,” she confides. “I work with a Nashville salon, Parlour 3, that has a lot of celebrity clients. Carrie Underwood has about 15 of my pieces. It was amazing to sell it to her (at a trunk show) but to see pictures of her actually wearing them is a whole different story!”
Mary Kathryn looks forward to her five-year Randolph reunion and is curious to find out what her friends are doing now. As to her #WhyRandolph, she says that a favorite Randolph experience was and is sharing a Kindergarten Buddy with Maggie Buell ’12. “We still keep up with Ella and send her Christmas and birthday presents. She wears my jewelry now and that’s fun to see. Plus, my sister, Sarah Abbot ’15’s Buddy is Ella’s little sister, Anna. It’s been great for all of us to get together!”