Paper/Plastic: Contemporary Adornment

February 21 - June 5, 2016

Frequent visitors to RAM see contemporary jewelry made of a wide variety of media. Truly, jewelry can be made of almost any material—whatever a person would want to use for adornment, they could. Some materials may be more valuable, durable, or wearable than others, but if the intent is present, most things can be manipulated to be worn.

In the world of art jewelry, this notion was given renewed attention in the latter half of the twentieth century when many artists adopted non-precious materials—such as plastic, paper, fabric, and found objects—for use in their work. While mass-produced modern costume and fashion jewelry made with cheaper materials has become popular, the one-of-a-kind, expensive jewelry prominent in Western cultures, is still associated with status and display. Interested in investigating new roles for jewelry and challenging some assumptions, artists found ways to incorporate paper and plastic—as well as other materials—into their practice as they subverted ideas of preciousness and suggested new meanings for adornment.

Paper/Plastic reflects a variety of approaches to using nontraditional materials, from the Pijanowski’s neckpiece made of Japanese papercord (mizuhiki) to the plastic 3D printed ring by Arthur Hash. While all of these makers follow their own courses and interests, they also all seem to be in sympathy with Caroline Broadhead’s statement about her own work: “My work is mainly driven by ideas but making and materials are an integral part of the process. You can’t make things without considering the craft of it.”

Exhibition Gallery Guide
Press Room


Suzanne Bucher, Bussi Buhs, Caroline Broadhead, Ramon-Puig Cuyas, Robert Ebendorf, Liat Ginzburg, Arthur Hash, Bryant Holsenbeck, Willem Honing, Sarah Hood, Nuala Jamison, Esther Knobel, Unk Kraus, Nel Linssen, James Minson, Angela O’Kelly, Masako Onodera, Adam Paxon, Eugene and Hiroko Sato Pijanowski, Wendy Ramshaw, Ivy Ross, Rebecca Strzelec, Mecky van den Brink, David and Roberta Williamson, Carol Windsor

Unk Kraus
Pin, ca.1995
Printed paper and laminated plastic
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Lucy G. Feller
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
Nel Linssen
Wrist Cuff, ca. 1985
Elephant hide paper and elastic thread
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Gail M. Brown
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
Sarah Hood
Tree Collar #2, 2011
Sterling silver, 14k-gold, 18k-gold, prehnite, and plastic
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Family and Friends in Memory of Terri Gelenian-Wood and Candance Lynch
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
Wendy Ramshaw
Something Special Earrings, ca. 1968
Paper, beads, and metal
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Dale and Doug Anderson
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
Bussi Buhs
Brooch, ca. 2000
Racine Art Museum, The Donna Schneier Jewelry Collection,
Gift of Donna Schneier and Leonard Goldberg
Courtesy of the Artist
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
Arthur Hash
Bubble Ring, ca. 2010
ABS plastic
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Flora Book
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
Paper/Plastic: Contemporary Adornment is made possible at Racine Art Museum by: Platinum Sponsors - Karen Johnson Boyd and William B. Boyd, SC Johnson, Windgate Charitable Foundation; Diamond Sponsor - Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation; Gold Sponsors - Herzfeld Foundation, Johnson Bank, National Endowment for the Arts, Racine Community Foundation W.T. Walker Group, Inc.; Silver Sponsors - Racine County, Real Racine Wisconsin Arts Board; Bronze Sponsors - Burlington Graphic Systems, Inc., EC Styberg Foundation, Educators Credit Union, In Sink Erator, The Norbell Foundation, Orkney Springs Retreat, Rasmussen Diamonds, Ruud Family Foundation, Inc., Wisconsin Public Radio