The Creative Examination of Ideas.

Norgard Designs is dedicated to the creative examination of ideas. Ideas are examined through the creative process culminating in large and small scale works. The sharing of these ideas is manifested through the physical works themselves, educational workshops and global project work.

Exploration: The action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it. Initially, it was all about study and hard work and understanding the what and how of making. As these pulled into focus the importance of the why, and, the meaning of the work began to shape values as core to the work. Currently, meaning is sought not only in the outcome but in the process.

Tradition: The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.  My studio life respects those that came before.  Sometime obvious, more often subtle, the work honors historic techniques, materials, and artists through a contemporary lens.  The work exists to pass on my interpretations.  I think about the work outlasting me. 2020 marked 50 years of studio life. Music taught her daily practice. Art provided freedom of thought. Time showed her a personal path. And she showed herself how to trust the practice, freedom and path.

Passion:  An intense desire or enthusiasm for something. Passion is the driver that promotes learning. Passion means that when it gets hard you have the stick to it-ness to keep going. It is in the small things and it leads to the big things.

Technique:  A way of carrying out a particular task.  In trying to define this for students I often talk about the selection of your answer to “the how?”.  How are you going to get the paint to the canvas?  How are you going to make that particular shape in seed beads?  Educate yourself in the ways/the techniques to do this.

Design: A plan.  An arrangement.  Sam began her design understanding at the family run business: The Park Florist in Plainfield, N.J. At the time, she had no idea that this was the start of a lifelong adventure in art and design. Design helps us rid insanity from our thinking and have intention, purpose, order. Design is the careful and intentional arrangement of a space.

Interpretation: The action of explaining the meaning of something.  My focus on this word has to do with meaning, and meaning being conveyed through the visual medium.  Making art and design is not only about how we do it but also about why and what the work is about.

Karen "Sam" Norgard

Karen-Sam Norgard, “Sam” to her friends and family, finds inspiration for her one-of-a-kind jewelry from a number of different sources. Guided by top design principles, her love of floral themes and her eye for unusual combinations of color, texture and form, Sam’s intricate beadwork brings together her considerable design skills.

Combining African, Native American, French and Victorian techniques Sam weaves a rich mix of beads and findings collected from a world-wide search. The dynamic process of linking old techniques with new interpretations reveals an idea. The idea manifests as she selects each bead and adds it to the form. Sometimes, if a piece really “speaks” to her, she will create a series based on the same theme to fully explore the nuances of the design until it has run its course. “Creating necklaces, bracelets and earrings that women will love and enjoy wearing gives me great pleasure,” Sam declares. “By wearing my jewelry my clients provide the most intimate of displays for my designs.”

Sam is dedicated to preserving the tradition of handmade beaded art and conveys her passion to workshop participants and her students at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, GA, where she and her husband, David Golden (a painter), 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. 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.

Sam’s artistic pursuits extend well beyond her jewelry designs. She also creates perishable constructions, installations, and, recently is launching global projects. The perishable constructions utilize a variety of materials from live plants to beach stones and shells. After assembling these constructions she photographs them, and, allows the materials to return to a natural state. Plants wilt and waves scatter the pieces. “It is much like our human existence,” she observes. “Each of my creations is unique – much like each one of us is unique, in the cycle of life.”

Sam’s involvement with installation art has grown over several decades. See Sam’s timeline below for a glimpse into this world. And catch up with Sam’s latest global work, the Black and White Together Project under Sam’s Work. You can support her efforts through the purchases in the shop. We offer one of a kind works as well as enamel pins created specifically for the Black and White Together Project.

The creation of this website is a way for Sam to share her work and her love of teaching with you. We hope you will come in, explore, enjoy, download a workshop, find that special piece of jewelry for that special someone. Or maybe you would like to be part of Sam’s next Global Project?

Years of Studio Life

Thousand Hours Spent at Her Craft

Years Teaching Art + Design

Unwavering Passion

Through The Years: 1970's - 1980's

2-D Pattern and color

Acrylic paint on paper 30” x 40”

The Carrot and the Drink

Acrylic paint on paper 34” x 50”

1980's - 1990's

The Glendive Shooting Gallery

Acrylic paint on wood. Approximately 12’ x 5’ x 10’

The Glendive Shooting Gallery
This Oar that Or

Canvas is 6’ x 6’. Permanent collection of the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Home Sweet Home

Installation at the Art Academy, Philadelphia, PA

My Mobile Home

Installation at Nexus Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.

Lucille, the Dessert Waitress

Character from “All Girl Network” a Performance by Sam Norgard and Jessie Jane Lewis at the Painted Bride, Philadelphia, PA.

The Dangling Metaphor

Installation from “All Girl Network” a Performance by Sam Norgard and Jessie Jane Lewis at The Painted Bride, Philadelphia, PA.

Trying on Shoes

Non-Audience Performance Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, PA.

Performance by Dan Loewenstein

Yellow Springs Laboratory, Yellow Springs, PA.

Performance by Dan Loewenstein

The Painted Bride, Philadelphia, PA.

1990's - 2000's

Philly Conversation

6 welded women (welding by America Jones Tickle). Henry Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA.

Stick Dress Maquette

2’ x 1’ x 1’

Izetta Topiary

The Garden for the Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA.

2000's - 2010's

Deb’s Beach Dress

Perishable Construction. Approximately 2’ height. White Cove, Nova Scotia.

Jonathan’s Bride

Bread Dress. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Fan of Frida’s

Beaded Construction. Created with the Twisted Fringe.  Approximately 15” x 8” x 2”. Collection of Pres. Paula Wallace, Savannah College of Art and Design.

Sunflower Rug

Installation. Lacoste, France.

SCAD - Atlanta Installation

30 wall mounted forms comprised of folded paper forms made from announcements of artist events at SCAD.  30 ft long in Commissioned in celebration of SCAD’s 30th anniversary.

2010's - Present

Butterflies In My Skirt: How’d They Get there?

Skirt Created with members of the Coastal Bead Society and the Hilton Head Bead Society. Butterflies Created with the Batey Girls. 4’ x 2’ x 10”

Who? Me?

Sam’s artwork, the beaded forms, represent history, community and cultural exchange. I met her in Nova Scotia about 20 years ago and our first conversation was about a dream to develop an art program for our summer community. We began by connecting with the local French speaking University, the University of St. Ann, mixing art teachers from both the U.S. and Canada. Next step she bought an original one-room schoolhouse and had it moved to the back of her family property where summer workshops are taught currently. The cultural exchange has broadened. The last workshops had students from the U.K., Switzerland, as well as the U.S. and Canada. Just as Sam’s jewelry has become more complex and sophisticated over the years so have her workshops evolved from local to international. To arrive at the vintage 100-year-old schoolhouse is to be immersed in French Acadian culture. Bay St. Marie, part of the Bay of Fundy, astounds one with its’ beauty: intense blue skies, tidal rise and fall of 26’ twice a day, fabulous sunsets mirrored in the ocean landscape. Sam shares the cuisine, the music, lobster and scallop history with her students as part of her teaching. Her artwork now represents worldwide. To purchase a piece of her art means supporting in worldwide art collaboration and cultural exchange. Over the years I acquired three of her jewelry pieces. The first was a beaded brooch representing a piece of clay sculpture. Her beaded work was flat in form, a monochrome of earth colors, and, pattern may have been its’ strong point. Next, was a bracelet, again a flat form, wild in color, reminiscent of abstract expressionist art. There were momentos included, one being an oval bead cabochon. When I looked inside the Mona Lisa was staring back – smile and all. What a surprise! The last jewelry acquired was sculpture for the ears created in black and gold. They are 3-D wings ready to fly from a rhinestone chain. They are reminiscent of Calder’s early mobiles but these are feminine and playful statements. They are exquisite!

Rosa Kennedy Friend

Sam has been a part of my life for nearly 50 years. She is a remarkable artist and quite remarkable as a friend. The kind of friend that anyone would be lucky to have. The first piece of her art that I really paid attention to was a sculpture called The Shooting Gallery. Not being an artist or having any education in art I could not have said why I liked the piece so much. I just knew that it made me smile. For a period in the early 80’s I was blessed to work with her in New York City in a small clothing business called Edna Queen of Mars. She and my partner worked as a great team designing the clothing that I helped to produce. And we did many pieces that delighted the fashion coordinator at Bloomingdales. I know Sam to be a very dedicated instructor. Her teaching strives to give her students an education in art. But also in life. I’m sure her students become better at making art and at living life under her guidance. Of her jewelry I have nothing to say but Wow! I have many pieces and I occasionally wear the pieces that I feel I can carry off as a fairly liberated man. So I am able to say that not only are they beautiful. They are well made so that one can wear them without fear of someone touching them in admiration.

Keith Bupp Friend

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