An exhibition brochure. As a collector and wearer, Susan Grant Lewin selects pieces for her collection that resonate with her intellect, aesthetic, and keen sense of identity. In this regard, jewelry takes on a performative role, acting as both an intimate treasured possession and a public expression of the wearer’s— and the maker’s—thoughts and feelings. A museum setting allows viewers to engage more fully with the cerebral and emotional content of individual works in the Lewin collection, and to better appreciate their masterful execution.
Jewelry has played myriad roles over the course of time and across cultures, often conveying the wealth, social status, or devotion of the wearer. The contemporary pieces gifted to the Yale University Art Gallery by Lewin are inextricably connected to such powerful and enduring associations and, at the same time, represent a new type of jewelry that emerged in the Western world during the second half of the twentieth century.
Designed to adorn the body and engage the mind, the works in Lewin’s collection derive their value from the richness of their brilliantly realized ideas. Taking responsibility for the creative process from concept to physical execution, the artists represented in this gift boldly proclaimed their individuality by using diverse and unconventional materials, employing innovative techniques, and developing new forms. Not seeking a mass audience, these artists created one-of-a-kind pieces meant to connect with a particular wearer who shared their artistic vision.