For centuries those creative acts which have been most often associated with beads rarely have been accorded the status of Art. While beadwork has existed in virtually every culture throughout the world since the beginnings of modern man, and has played a significant role both spiritually (with amuletic properties) and socially (as an indicator of status), it is generally viewed as a functional craft rather than an Art form in its own right.
Beads and beadwork have, throughout time, maintained a universal appeal that links people across cultures and across the ages. Beads date back more than 40,000 years, and are a uniquely human phenomenon, not found amongst other primates or even earlier human species. In addition to serving the human needs of vanity, adornment, and social status, beads have a deeper, more spiritual aspect. They have provided us good fortune, protection from evil forces, and a link to a more spiritual realm (both through prayer beads , and elaborately beaded ritual body adornment).
From early hunter gatherers in the pre-agricultural age, to the Ancient Worlds of Egypt, Greece and Rome, onto Renaissance Europe, Tribal Africa, the Orient, Native America, the Victorian Period, and up through the Modern Era, beadwork has represented an uninterrupted tradition throughout time amongst virtually every culture on Earth. In a world of human differences, beadwork is a common link, fulfilling the most fundamental human needs.
It is in this history of ancient traditions, spiritual importance, timeless handcraft, and human commonality that the Art of Beads can be found. They represent more than precision handwork, personal adornment, or social significance. Each bead, beneath its lustrous surface, tells an age old story of human fear, human desire, and the human need for beauty.
By drawing on my education in historical costume and textiles and applying variations of Native American, African Zulu, and Victorian beading techniques to contemporary colors and designs, I strive to create beaded body adornment that celebrates and reincarnates the dying tradition of fine handcrafts, and helps to elevate beadwork to the status of Art, which it undeniably deserves.
September 1993 – March 1997; University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut (historical costume restoration)
January, 2002 – 2003; University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut (anthropology and archaeology)
Selected Exhibitions, Honors & Awards:
- June 2013; Bead Dreams 2013, The Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee, WI (second place, objects and accessories)
- June, 2013; awarded the Excellency in Bead Artistry Award at the Bead & Button Show
- January, 2013 Saul Bell Design Award, second place in beads
- July – August 2012; The Art of Beads II, The Mill Gallery, Guilford Handcraft Center, Guilford, CT (juror)
- June, 2010; Master Class Teacher at The Bead & Button Show, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- April, 2010; Top Ten Teacher Award, Bead & Button Show
- April, 2008; Smithsonian Craft Show Exhibitor, Washington D.C.
- June 2006; Bead Dreams 2006, The Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee, WI (first place, seed bead work)
- May 2006; Bead International (touring exhibition), the Dairy Barn, Athens, OH
- June, 2005; Bead Dreams 2005, The Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee, WI (first place, finished jewelry (collaboration with Lisa Niven Kelly), third place, seed beads)
•June, 2004; Bead Dreams 2005, The Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee, WI (third place, seed beads)
- September, 2003; Brave Destiny (surrealist art exhibition), Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Brooklyn, NY
- September, 2003; DeCordova Style, DeCordova Scupture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA
- June 2003; Bead Dreams 2003, The Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee, WI (best of show; first place, seed beads)
- April 2003; Gleaming Treasures, Embellishment 2003, Chicago, IL (third place, seed bead work; third place, finished jewelry; judges choice)
- June 2002; Bead Dreams 2002, The Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee, WI (finalist, seed bead work)
- May 2002 – June 2004; Bead International (touring exhibition), the Dairy Barn, Athens, OH
- July 2001; Gleaming Treasures, Embellishment 2001, Portland, OR (best of show; first place, finished jewelry)
- May 2001; Bead Dreams 2001, The Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee, WI (finalist, seed bead work)
- May – June 2001; The Art of Beads, The Mill Gallery, Guilford Handcraft Center, Guilford, CT (first place, jewelry)
- July 2000; Gleaming Treasures, Embellishment 2000, Portland, OR (second place, finished jewelry; judges choice)
- June 2000; Bead Dreams 2000, The Bead and Button Show, Portland, OR (first place, finished jewelry)
- July 1998; Gleaming Treasures, Embellishment 1998, Sacramento, CA (finalist, seed bead work)
Press & Publications:
- 2010, Lark Books, Laura McCabe’s Embellished Beadweaving
- 2008, Creative Publishing, Creating Crystal Jewelry with Swarovski
- 2011, Bead Magazine (UK), feature profile
- 2010, Bead & Button Magazine, feature profile
- 2010, Designer of the Year for Beadwork Magazine (one article in each of the six issues for 2010)
- 2007, Ornament Magazine, feature profile (Winter 2006/2007 issue)
- 2004, Bead Dreams Annual, Bead & Button Magazine
- 2003, Artist’s Statement, Ornament Magazine
- 2002, “Just Let Laura Bead” (artist profile), Beadwork Magazine
- Extensive workshops across the United States in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
- Extensive workshops internationally including: Australia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, Scotland, Tasmania, and Wales.