When Lopeeta Tawde was in high school, she loved science, but she also enjoyed drawing what she saw through the microscope: microscopic plants, cells and animals.

What Tawde probably didn't know is that some years later her work in high school would inspire her to make unique silicon and metal jewelry pieces based on those microorganisms she saw in the microscope.

Now a graduate student studying metals and jewelry at the University, she grew up in Mumbai, and while she knew she had a love for science and a passion for art, she wasn’t quite sure how to pursue it. So, she completed her undergraduate degree at Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Mumbai and earned a degree in metalworks.

Because she didn’t meet the criteria for admittance to the University right away, she said she went to Oklahoma State University to build up her portfolio and received a bachelor's degree in metalsmithing and jewelry.

Tawde said one thing that brought her to the University was Gina Westergard, associate professor of metalsmithing and jewelry and associate chair of the Department of Visual Art. Tawde was familiar with her work and had seen it previously.

Westergard said what she finds unique about Tawde’s work is that instead of just being inspired by a creature or organism, she goes beyond that and captures the qualities of something that is living and mysterious.

“Her work is very dynamic, and it’s magical because it glows and has this movement to it,” Westergard said. “It can be unpredictable, and you don’t really know what to expect when you first look at it.”

Tawde said originally she was more interested in fabricating something in the structure of a microorganism but  liked the concept of bio-organisms because they glow in the dark with a blacklight. All of her pieces glow in the dark and some of them contain motion-sensors.

She said the process of creating a piece can take four hours to a week, and all of the pieces are wearable and include necklaces, rings and brooches.

“I want people to be curious what is in the piece and really feel all of the pieces because they are fun and whimsical,” Tawde said. “They have this quality where you really want to pick it up and touch it.”

Westergard said Tawde has grown tremendously, and she has never had a student work with glow-in-the-dark materials and different types of lighting.

“I’m attracted to someone who can make poetry out of the physical and I think she is really taking these materials and has transformed them in a way that is really unique, surprising and unexpected,” Westergard said. 

— Edited by Madi Schulz