Rachel Thiewes was born in Owatonna, Minnesota in 1952. She received her BA in Art/Metals from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and her MFA in Art/Metals from Kent State University. Thiewes began teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in 1976 and is a current member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths. She has also taught a Master class at the Royal College of Art in London in 1995.
Her work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, among others. In 2009, she was named “Texas Master” by the Houston Center of Contemporary Craft and in 2010 was nominated for a United States Artist Fellowship. Thiewes is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship, the University of Texas Regents Outstanding Award for Teaching, and Distinguished Achievement Awards for Research and Teaching at the University of Texas El Paso where she is a Professor in the Department of Art.
Thiewes creates jewelry that is designed to engage and challenge the wearer, making them an active participant, an initiator of sounds and body rhythms. When asked about her work, Thiewes responded that the Renwick Gallery sees her work as “sculpture for the body,” and it is inspired by both the desert landscape of her Texas home and her marriage to a jazz musician. Her dynamic jewelry combines form, sound, and light, all of which raise the wearer’s consciousness about the artwork and about his or her own body.