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12 Questions: Karen Sam Norgard

This week’s 12 questions are answered by Karen Sam Norgard. Both Jimmy and I had the pleasure of having Sam as a professor at the UW-Whitewater as undergraduates. Sam helped me to draw better and see with more open eyes. Sam was also an amazing female mentor to me when I went through a very harrowing time in my first full-time position as an Assistant Professor. She is an amazing, talented, strong, artist that both Jimmy and I look up to. You can find her amazing beadwork in our gallery or online: 

Karen-Sam Norgard, “Sam” to her friends and family, finds inspiration for her one-of-a-kind jewelry from a number of different sources. The intricate beadwork brings together her considerable design skills in painting and ceramic sculpture, her love of floral themes and her eye for unusual combinations of color, texture and form.

Sam is dedicated to preserving the tradition of handmade beaded art and conveys her passion to her students at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, GA, where she and her husband, David, live. She currently is a Professor at the Savannah location, served as an artist in residence at SCAD-Lacoste, France and helped open SCAD-Hong Kong where she taught for one year. Prior to her teaching career she worked in a number of design-related industries. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking, and a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramic Sculpture.

Here are the questions…

1.What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

New Think

Einstein's Dreams


2.What are you currently working on?

The Butterfly Project

Text for a beaded staircase

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

I only find my true way through failure.

4.What is your most unusual habit?

I cross my mouth before I go teach to focus my attention on finding the right words.

5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

Alice Neel

I love her work ...   I met her .  I'd like the time with her.


6. What is the most indispensible item in your studio/workspace/office?

My mind.

7.When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

I'm typically overinspired.  

I'm currently interested in how artists identify,  select and develop content. The why of what we make. 

8.What is the most life-changing thing you have bought for under 100 dollars in the last year?

Beaded fragments

9. Do you collect anything?

Same answer as number 8!

10. What words of advice would you give to your younger self?

Don't give up.

11. In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?

Belief in community and synchronicity.


12. Share an inspiring image.

Sam’s work table.


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