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Finger foods: Art student meshes heritage and humor

Portrait of Maite Iribarren-Gorrindo in her art studio
Maite Iribarren-Gorrindo is an art student specializing in making unique rings. Art metals, home studio, for Focus magazine, photo by Priscilla Grover

An assignment that asks students to make rings and other wearable objects from alternative materials has been part of Professor Anika Smulovitz’s advanced art metals class for more than 15 years. Students have used seed pods, bike chains, wasp nests – even shadows and frosting for ephemeral pieces.

Maite Iribarren-Gorrindo, a first- generation Basque American, looked to her personal history for inspiration. Her family is from Navarra in the Basque Country where most of her relatives worked in the restaurant business. For three decades, her parents owned the Carson Valley Country Club, a Basque 11 restaurant and bar in Gardnerville, Nevada.

“See?” Iribarren-Gorrindo said, “I can’t get away from food.”