Jamie Bennett: Among Etcetera, Jewelry and Drawings

Antonella Villanova, Florence, Italy

Jamie Bennett Starting in May, American jeweler Jamie Bennett has a delightful show at Antonella Villanova contemporary jewelry and design gallery in Florence, Italy. It is an unexpected place for Jamie to exhibit his enamels given the rarity of Americans showing in European galleries. I applaud both Antonella and Jamie for making it work. Jamie has answered my numerous questions with thoughtfulness, and although I have known him for many years, I learned a lot from this interview. Enjoy.

Susan Cummins: Jamie, can you tell me the story of how you became a jeweler?

Jamie Bennett: Once I finished undergraduate school with a business degree from The University of Georgia, I began taking art classes there. I was thrilled with the freedom I sampled by taking painting, ceramics, sculpture, and jewelry. Though I had only taken one class in jewelry, the intimacy, the particular type of making, and these objects all appealed to me. And I realized I already had a connection, which perhaps instigated my interest.

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Jamie Bennett

Mia Maljojoki: Life is juicy - How fragile is your day

Galerie Spektrum, Munich, Germany

Mia Maljojoki For once, I had the great good fortune to see one of the shows featured on the blog in person. I wish this were possible for every interview. Mia Maljojoki presented her work with Galerie Spektrum during Schmuck week in Munich, guaranteeing a huge audience. It is important to see her work up close to become aware of the care with which she makes it. Also, there is a very tender feeling that photos do not capture. The necklaces are accompanied by videos of a close examination of skin—again, something that can’t be sensed via this blog. However, Mia’s answers give us an excellent opportunity to understand more.

Susan Cummins: Can you tell me the story of how you became a jeweler, including where you lived and went to school?

Mia Maljojoki: In 1996, after working in fashion for several years in Helsinki, Finland, I went to work at a summer camp in western North Carolina, USA. That summer, in the middle of the woods near Asheville, I started to make jewelry by braiding twigs and lining up stones. Wanting to continue transforming materials into ornament, I attended the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, studying under Professor Joe Wood. In 2001, I graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in small metals.

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Mia Maljojoki
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Mia Maljojoki
Mia Maljojoki

Paul Mergen: A Life in Copper

Gabriel Craig
Paul Mergen refers to copper as “the mother metal.” From his early career, he used copper subversively, as a low material, perhaps precluding himself from early recognition. The premier works of Mergen’s early jewelry combined forging, repoussé, and piercing to achieve contrast in form, visual weight, and texture. These are archetypal works for their time, and it is from this origin—at the center of the coalescing American metalsmithing academy—that Mergen departs, moving toward esoteric interests and developing his artistic inquiry.
Exhibition Details
Exhibition Title: 
So What 50—Paul Mergen
Exhibition Dates: 
October 2–26, 2012

Though not widely known, Paul Mergen is an American metalsmith and educator who has been practicing with focus and purpose for 50 years. In fact, his work has existed outside the mainstream of the metal and jewelry fields, in semi-isolation, for the better part of his career. Mergen’s recent retrospective, So What 50, at the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo featured 150 works—primarily in copper—spanning 50 years.

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Paul Mergen
Paul Mergen
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Paul Mergen
Paul Mergen
Bibliography: 

Fenster, Fred. Oral History Interview with Fred Fenster. Interviewed by Jan Yeager. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. August 9–10, 2004.

Sally Marsland: Everything depends on what we would rather do than change

Jeweler’sWerk Galerie, Washington DC, USA

Sally Marsland Jeweler’sWerk Galerie in Washington, DC is having a marvelous exhibition with Australian Sally Marsland this month. Sally’s show has the very long title Everything depends on what we would rather do than change. It is accompanied by a catalog that’s remarkable in its honesty and humor about making work and living life. I was delighted by it and by her answers to my questions.

Susan Cummins: Can you tell me how you came to make jewelry?

Sally Marsland: When I was 12 I obsessively drew house plans and elevations on 5-mm graph paper, carefully placing windows and doors and furniture etc. I decided the logical conclusion was to become an architect. I followed this through to university, and then fell in a huge heap part way through as it dawned on me that perhaps the obsessive drawing had been a symbol of something else. I was studying architecture at RMIT University in Melbourne, and after a year of depression, I started in the jewelry course there. I studied at RMIT for five years and worked with the late Melbourne sculptor Akio Makigawa (husband of jeweler Carlier Makigawa) while I set up my own practice. I studied for two years with Otto Künzli in Munich. Since 2000, I have been back in Melbourne where I work and live with my husband Stephen Bram, an abstract painter, and our two sons.

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Sally Marsland

Transplantation: A Sense of Place and Culture

Zoe Brand
Did this exhibition, via its catalog, live up to my expectations? It is clear that each of these jewelers put a lot of themselves into realizing the work they submitted for this show. Some more than others executed thought provoking work that really addressed Cherry’s transplantation brief. Did it showcase narrative jewelry? It certainly did not satisfy my expectations about narrative jewelry as a genre, but yes it certainly offered jewelry with a narrative.
Book Details
Book Title: 
Transplantation: A Sense of Place and Culture
Author: 
Jo Bloxham, ed
Publisher City: 
England
Publisher: 
University of Lincoln
Year Published: 
2012

Transplantation: A Sense of Place and Culture

Lynn Kelly: Central

Fingers Contemporary New Zealand Jewellery, Auckland, New Zealand

Lynn Kelly Jewelry has been filled with plant forms from the beginning of its history, and these forms continue to intrigue jewelers from all parts of the world. Fingers Contemporary New Zealand Jewellery was founded in 1974 by a group of jewelers in Auckland. This month, the gallery is featuring a jeweler intrigued with plant forms. In fact, she has a horticultural degree. Lynn Kelly is absorbed more deeply than most by the use of plant forms as inspiration for her work.

Susan Cummins: Can you give us the story of how you became a jeweler? Please include your geographical locations, schools, etc.

Lynn Kelly: My parents emigrated from Northern Ireland. I found myself very interested in jewelry while travelling to Britain in the early 1980s to meet my wider family. I cannot pin down any particular person or event that started my desire to make. Once I returned to New Zealand and attempted to get metal training, I realized that I was too old for an apprenticeship, and at that time there was no other formal method of training in New Zealand.

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Jean-Michel Othoniel: My Way

Toni Greenbaum
Typical of Othoniel’s duality of purpose, these necklaces encompass both joy and suffering. They link people, like beads, in an intimate, shared experience of giving and receiving. Regarding necklaces as a human surrogate, Othoniel has stated, “The necklace is like the shadow of a missing person.”
Exhibition Details
Exhibition Title: 
Jean-Michel Othoniel: My Way
Exhibition Dates: 
August 17-December 2, 2012

Jean-Michel Othoniel

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Jean-Michel Othoniel
Bibliography: 

Melissa Smith, “The Dark Fairytale World of Jean-Michel Othoniel at His Retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum,” www.capitalnewyork.com, August 21, 2012, 11:15am. http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2012/08/6481013/dark-fairy-tale-world-jean-michel-othoniel-retrospective-brooklyn-museum. November 18, 2012.

Karen Rosenberg, “Whimsy Teased from Molten Beginnings, Jean-Michel Othoniel: My Way at Brooklyn Museum,” www.nytimes.com, August 23, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/arts/design/jean-michel-othoniel-my-way-at-brooklyn-museum. November 18, 2012.

Brienne Walsh, “Re-enchanting the World with Jean Michel Othoniel,” www.artinamericamagazine.com, August 23, 2012. http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-opinion/news/2012-08-23/jean-michel-othoniel November 18, 2012.

Stanley Appelbaum, ed. Guy de Maupassant, The Necklace and Other Short Stories, unabridged republication of nine stories from various sources (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1992). “The Necklace” originally appeared as “The Diamond Necklace” in The Works of Guy de Maupassant: Short Stories (Roslyn, New York: Black’s Readers Service, n.d.)

 

Julie Blyfield: Second Nature

Gallery Funaki, Melbourne, Australia

Julie Blyfield Julie Blyfield is intrigued with plant forms as many jewelers have been over the millennium. She is looking at Australian plants, and this gives her an edge on unusual shapes and patterns. Second Nature, her show at Gallery Funaki, is a very concise look at how plant patterns translate into silver.

Susan Cummins: Can you give us the story of how you became a jeweler?

Julie Blyfield: My passion for jewelry and metal began in 1976. I was training to be a secondary school art teacher at Torrens College of Advanced Education at Underdale, west of Adelaide, in South Australia. (Now it is the University of South Australia, City West.) Carole-Ann Fooks was my jewelry lecturer. She introduced me to working with metal combined with mixed materials, such as bone, shell, and casting.

For many years, I taught jewelry making in secondary schools while making my own pieces at home in my spare time. I lived in regional South Australia when I first started teaching, so I had plenty of spare time to pursue my interest and passion.

Next, I returned to live in Adelaide and went back to night classes at Adelaide College of the Arts and Education to learn a few more skills, including enameling, chasing, and repoussé. In 1985, I enrolled in an associate diploma in jewelry making and joined Gray Street Workshop, a jewelry collective in Adelaide. I began as an access tenant, and then became a partner in the workshop that lasted 23 years.

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Hanna Hedman: Black Bile

Platina, Stockholm, Sweden

Hanna Hedman Platina, Sofia Bjorkman’s gallery in Stockholm, Sweden, has a fascinating program featuring mostly young and thoughtful artists. This month, Hanna Hedman is showing a collection of her work in a mournful exhibition called Black Bile.

Susan Cummins: Can you tell me about your background and how you decided to become a jeweler?

Hanna Hedman: I have always been creative. As a young child, I loved making objects and drawings. My family always encouraged my creativity,  even though they were not artists themselves. I started to dabble in jewelry by breaking my mother’s necklaces and reassembling them into what I believed were better versions. I was also a professional skier at a very young age, and skiing was a major part of my life for a long time. But, I always felt the need to express myself more with my hands. I made my first piece of jewelry while attending the University of Colorado on a skiing scholarship from 1999 to 2001. My work wasn’t very artistic at the start. I was drawn to the many possibilities of shaping metal. This is something that still intrigues me very much. My art life eventually superseded my sports life, and I haven’t stopped making since then. I work with jewelry for many reasons, but one is to explore jewelry’s direct relationship with the body.

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Put a Ring on It

Taboo Studio, San Diego, California

Kristin Lora Jane Groover and Joanna Rhoades own the Taboo Studio in San Diego, California. This month, their gallery is presenting a ring show featuring artists Brooke Battles, Steven Brixner, Jim Cotter, Christine Simpson Forni, Diana Hall, Barbara Heinrich, April Higashi, Deanna Jacobsen, Dahlia Kanner, Ananda Khalsa, Janis Kerman, Christy Klug, Kristin Lora, Sydney Lynch, Ayesha Mayadas, Victoria Moore, Rebecca Myers, Brigid O’Hanrahan, Christina Y. Smith, Julia V. Turner, Myung Urso, Donna Veverka, and Jeff and Susan Wise. Jane Groover kindly answered my questions about the show.

Susan Cummins: Can you talk about the title of the show and why you chose the idea of a ring exhibition?

Jane Groover: A lot of our business involves clients who are getting married, and having an assortment of wedding and engagement rings is crucial to satisfying that demand. We wanted to host an exhibition that would not only expose our marrying clients to the exciting variety of traditional wedding rings but also entice our non-marrying clients to dress up their digits. My assistant chose the title Put a Ring on It from the lyrics of Beyonce Knowles’s hit song Single Ladies. The show’s title invites the buyer to consider the ring in all its manifestations as a personal form of adornment and expression.

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Jim Cotter
Donna Veverka
Kristin Lora
Janis Kerman
Christy Klug
Steven Brixner

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