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Adornment and Excess: Jewelry in the 21st Century

By United States

Adornment and Excess
Installation, Adornment and Excess: Jewelry in the 21st Century, Miami University Art Museum, Oxford
Adornment and Excess
Installation, Adornment and Excess: Jewelry in the 21st Century, Miami University Art Museum, Oxford

Kathy Buszkiewicz also uses money, in her case shredded money (obtained from the Treasury Department) to address issues of materialism, commodification and value/worth. It took her countless hours to sort the strands of shredded money before even beginning the meticulous process of weaving patterns by lining up the images on the currency in The Eyes of George Are Upon You. The title refers to the 1500 pairs of George Washington’s eyes that are lined up to create one of the stripes in the woven pattern of this shawl. The money, in this case, is only symbolic of wealth because in its present state (shredded) it is, in fact, worthless. The worthlessness of the materials is juxtaposed with the high value of the labor in Buszkiewicz’s work, an idea which is fundamental to its meaning. 

emiko oye
emiko oye, Cygne Noir from ‘My First Royal Jewels Jewellery Collection 2009’, 2009, repurposed LEGO®, rubber cord, sterling silver

Two of Meg Drinkwater’s necklaces, one made from predominantly costume jewelry ‘gold’ chains, the other from costume pearl necklaces, are both presented as uncontrolled tangles of strands that are then encased in resin to create one massive piece. They both have a bib-like presence on the body and the accumulation of ‘stuff’ contained within addresses the pure commodity value and, frankly, the lack of imagination present in most costume/fine jewelry. Erin Gardiner Rose uses a similar strategy, but here she uses the ubiquitous engagement ring and heart pendant, copies them and uses them as raw material. In the resulting rings, brooches and necklace, Rose gathers these forms into awkward clusters, denying the component parts any uniqueness or preciousness, thus interrogating ideas of excess, mass production and consumer desire.

Yevgeniya Kaganovich
Yevgeniya Kaganovich, Pearl Necklace XII, 2006, potato pearls, silicone rubber, 14 karat white gold, silk thread

Kaganovich focuses her interrogation on the pearl necklace, once a symbol of the rite of passage into womanhood, of innocence, propriety and decorum. Pearls, as a commodity, have been subjected to mass production techniques that make them hardly recognizable. Pearl farming techniques are such that pearls now come in all shapes and colors (crosses, sticks, discs, rectangles and lavender, ‘raven wing’, pink, green, etc.). Kaganovich encases her pearl necklaces, in part or in whole, within larger silicone ‘pearls’ which serve to create a lens-like structure which magnifies issues of production and cultural meaning while denying the sensual pleasure inherent in the pearl itself. These are thought provoking and multivalent works.

There are two community action projects represented in the exhibition. First is Gabriel Craig’s Pro Bono Jeweler video of performances he gave at various locations where he brought his jeweler’s bench out on the street and, while making silver and polymer clay rings, engaged the public in dialogue about making and meaning. Some of the residual rings made during the performances are on view in the gallery; others were given away during the performances. 

Ethical Metalsmiths
Ethical Metalsmiths, Radical Jewelry Makeover: A Traveling Community and Recycling Project, 2007-2009
Kimberlie Tatalick
Kimberlie Tatalick, NEOclassic Neckpiece, 2007, ABS plastic, modeled in Rhino, FDM printed

Other artists participating in the exhibition were: Yael Friedman, Lisa Gralnick, Michelle Hartney, Rory Hooper, Anya Kivarkis, Shari Pierce, Gary Schott and Francesca Vitali. Accompanying the exhibition was a catalog/gallery guide with a curatorial essay and commentary.


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