Essentially it is a mini survey presenting the work of contemporary practitioners who we think are doing good and interesting work. With a number of fine art schools in the area, work in the exhibition has the possibility to become an extension of the classroom. We therefore attempt to make selections that mirror or anticipate current methods, materials, processes and themes . . . plastics, CNC, felt, found materials, narrative . . . Our selections are informed by our attendance at events like the SNAG conference, where Beth Ann Gerstein (SAC director) and I have served as portfolio reviewers, by what we learn when asked to be visiting critics at universities and by artists whose work we encounter when we are asked to be on jury panels. We also keep abreast of developments on sites like AJF, Crafthaus, Klimt02 and the like.
The effect is no doubt aided by the white tags and the boxes and velvet bags in which some of the jewelry sits, which evoke the shop or retail space rather than the gallery and thus emphasize purchase and ownership rather than disinterested contemplation or artistic concerns. Tags and boxes play up this jewelry’s homebound status. It seems strange to me that the price tag doesn’t seem to disrupt my experience. Instead, it seems that in being reminded that these are commodities, items for sale, the jewelry dimension of contemporary jewelry is activated – more so than later when they will go on display as part of an exhibition in the gallery space.
Jennifer Wall’s candy colored cameos and flowers seem more playful when seen together in the metal drawer, as though this setting emphasizes their lineage in costume or children’s jewelry, as inexpensive and delightful objects of play, rather than the precious, ancient treasures more usually found in a museum vitrine.