Joyce Scott
Topographical Fields (Neckpiece), 1989
Glass beads, thread, and wire
11 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 2 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Laura Oskowitz
Photography: Jon Bolton

Get a Bead On: Jewelry and Small Objects

July 21, 2021 – January 22, 2022
at Racine Art Museum

One of the primary definitions of a bead emphasizes its use in adornment or an ornamental capacity. Contemporary artists who work with beads sometimes adhere to these parameters and sometimes challenge them. This exhibition, comprised of works from RAM’s collection, reveals the expansive potential of beads for structure as well as decoration in contemporary art jewelry and small-scale objects.

As shifting Native American beadwork practices have made clear, the materials used to form beads can change depending on geography, use, cultural and personal preference, and availability. Contemporary artists—many with multiple options available to them—make choices based on aesthetic, conceptual, practical, personal, and symbolic intent. For example, silversmith Jasper Nelson draws on generational Navajo family knowledge and interest to create beaded neckpieces with a minimalist aesthetic. Interested in highlighting the “foodstuffs of our communal desire,” Linda Dolack covers candy boxes, food containers, and grocery carts with glass beads as she ironically highlights mass consumption and production. Holly Anne Mitchell uses recycled newspaper to create beaded bracelets, brooches, necklaces, and earrings that speak to eco-friendly practices as well as challenge assumptions about which materials can be used for jewelry.

Drawn together by a common form, the works included in this exhibition reflect a variety of perspectives on materials, techniques, and wearability. In addition to addressing these formal qualities, the artists also explore a range of social and cultural themes including perceptions of race, material consumption, and excess.

More About the Exhibition

Exhibition Notes (PDF)

Press Room

Artists in the Exhibition

Garry Knox Bennett, Flora Book, David Chatt, Sharon Church, Linda Dolack, Kathleen Dustin, Christina Eustace, Linda Fifield, Valerie Hector, Tina Fung Holder, Tory Hughes, Jan Huling, Donna Kato, Jacqueline Irene Lillie, Karen Thuesen Massaro, James Minson, Holly Anne Mitchell, Marilyn Moore, Merrill Morrison, Jasper Nelson, Judy Onofrio, Angie Reano Owen, Susan Rezac, Axel Russmeyer, Melissa Schmidt, Joyce Scott, Mary Tingley, Pier Voulkos, Kathy Wegman, and Tom Wegman

Get a Bead On: Jewelry and Small Objects

July 21, 2021 – January 22, 2022
at Racine Art Museum
Joyce Scott
Topographical Fields (Neckpiece), 1989
Glass beads, thread, and wire
11 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 2 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Laura Oskowitz
Photography: Jon Bolton

One of the primary definitions of a bead emphasizes its use in adornment or an ornamental capacity. Contemporary artists who work with beads sometimes adhere to these parameters and sometimes challenge them. This exhibition, comprised of works from RAM’s collection, reveals the expansive potential of beads for structure as well as decoration in contemporary art jewelry and small-scale objects.

As shifting Native American beadwork practices have made clear, the materials used to form beads can change depending on geography, use, cultural and personal preference, and availability. Contemporary artists—many with multiple options available to them—make choices based on aesthetic, conceptual, practical, personal, and symbolic intent. For example, silversmith Jasper Nelson draws on generational Navajo family knowledge and interest to create beaded neckpieces with a minimalist aesthetic. Interested in highlighting the “foodstuffs of our communal desire,” Linda Dolack covers candy boxes, food containers, and grocery carts with glass beads as she ironically highlights mass consumption and production. Holly Anne Mitchell uses recycled newspaper to create beaded bracelets, brooches, necklaces, and earrings that speak to eco-friendly practices as well as challenge assumptions about which materials can be used for jewelry.

Drawn together by a common form, the works included in this exhibition reflect a variety of perspectives on materials, techniques, and wearability. In addition to addressing these formal qualities, the artists also explore a range of social and cultural themes including perceptions of race, material consumption, and excess.

More About the Exhibition

Exhibition Notes (PDF)

Press Room

Artists in the Exhibition

Garry Knox Bennett, Flora Book, David Chatt, Sharon Church, Linda Dolack, Kathleen Dustin, Christina Eustace, Linda Fifield, Valerie Hector, Tina Fung Holder, Tory Hughes, Jan Huling, Donna Kato, Jacqueline Irene Lillie, Karen Thuesen Massaro, James Minson, Holly Anne Mitchell, Marilyn Moore, Merrill Morrison, Jasper Nelson, Judy Onofrio, Angie Reano Owen, Susan Rezac, Axel Russmeyer, Melissa Schmidt, Joyce Scott, Mary Tingley, Pier Voulkos, Kathy Wegman, and Tom Wegman

Sample of Work in the Exhibition

Click/tap an image for more information

Exhibitions at RAM are made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

The Estate of Karen Johnson Boyd
David Charak
Judith and David Flegel Fund
Ron and Judith Isaacs
Nicholas and Nancy Kurten
Racine Community Foundation logo
Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors

City of Racine’s Grow Racine Grant
Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation
Ruth Arts Foundation

Gold Sponsors

Anonymous
Tom and Irene Creecy
Richard and Patricia Ehlert
Trio Foundation of St. Louis
W.T. Walker Group, Inc.
Wisconsin Arts Board

Silver Sponsors

Anonymous
Baird
Beta Diagnostic Labs
A.C. Buhler Family
Lucy G. Feller
Ben and Dawn Flegel
Jim Harris
Sharon and Tom Harty
Horizon Retail Construction, Inc.
Lise Iwon
J. Jeffers & Co.
Johnson Financial Group
Dorothy MacVicar
Jan Serr and John Shannon

Bronze Sponsors

Ellen and Joseph Albrecht
Andis Foundation
Susan Boland
Virginia Buhler
Dave’s Wine Garage
Educators Credit Union
Express Employment Professionals
Bill and Debbie Keland
Susan Manalli
Jean and Alex Mandli, Jr.
The Prairie School
Cathy Stanghellin
Twin Disc, Inc.

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