David Damkoehler
Over the Shoulder Brooch, ca. 1995
Stainless steel and wire cable
23 1/2 x 1 3/4 x 1/16 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Drs. Judith and Martin Bloomfield
Photography: Jon Bolton

Open Close Front Back: Exploring Contemporary Art Jewelry Design

March 1 – September 23, 2023
at Racine Art Museum

Unless faced with something particularly unusual or difficult to maneuver, many people likely put on or take off a piece of jewelry without thinking about the mechanics of its design. Contemporary art jewelers—those constructing jewelry by hand as they undertake conceptual explorations—necessarily consider composition, materials, closures, and the relationship between the object and the wearer.

This exhibition, drawn entirely from RAM’s growing collection, celebrates contemporary jewelry while emphasizing the consideration of it from new angles—sometimes literally. For example, some brooches are displayed in a way that focuses attention on the back rather than the front. While the back may be invisible when a piece is worn, an artist might still take advantage of the fact that it is the side that the wearer interacts with—continuing elements from the front, adding an inscription, or, at a minimum, thoughtfully incorporating it into the overall composition.

Similarly, jewelers carefully consider how a neckpiece opens and closes—is it an element they want to draw attention to, something they want to hide, or something they avoid altogether through alternative design choices? All of these factors impact the overall visual effect of the work as well as its wearability.

Artists Under Consideration for the Exhibition

Jessica Calderwood, Betty Cooke, Kathleen Dustin, Arline Fisch, Lisa Gralnick, Esther Knobel, Jee Hye Kwon, Harold O’Connor, Yukihiro Shibata, Linda Threadgill, Pier Voulkos, J. Fred Woell, and Nancy Worden

Open Close Front Back: Exploring Contemporary Art Jewelry Design

March 1 – September 23, 2023
at Racine Art Museum
David Damkoehler
Over the Shoulder Brooch, ca. 1995
Stainless steel and wire cable
23 1/2 x 1 3/4 x 1/16 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Drs. Judith and Martin Bloomfield
Photography: Jon Bolton

Unless faced with something particularly unusual or difficult to maneuver, many people likely put on or take off a piece of jewelry without thinking about the mechanics of its design. Contemporary art jewelers—those constructing jewelry by hand as they undertake conceptual explorations—necessarily consider composition, materials, closures, and the relationship between the object and the wearer.

This exhibition, drawn entirely from RAM’s growing collection, celebrates contemporary jewelry while emphasizing the consideration of it from new angles—sometimes literally. For example, some brooches are displayed in a way that focuses attention on the back rather than the front. While the back may be invisible when a piece is worn, an artist might still take advantage of the fact that it is the side that the wearer interacts with—continuing elements from the front, adding an inscription, or, at a minimum, thoughtfully incorporating it into the overall composition.

Similarly, jewelers carefully consider how a neckpiece opens and closes—is it an element they want to draw attention to, something they want to hide, or something they avoid altogether through alternative design choices? All of these factors impact the overall visual effect of the work as well as its wearability.

Artists Under Consideration for the Exhibition

Jessica Calderwood, Betty Cooke, Kathleen Dustin, Arline Fisch, Lisa Gralnick, Esther Knobel, Jee Hye Kwon, Harold O’Connor, Yukihiro Shibata, Linda Threadgill, Pier Voulkos, J. Fred Woell, and Nancy Worden

Sample of Work in the Exhibition

Click/tap an image for more information

Exhibitions at RAM are made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

Judith and David Flegel Fund
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Ron and Judith Isaacs
Nicholas and Nancy Kurten
Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors

Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation

Gold Sponsors
Anonymous
David Charak
Silver Sponsors
Art Bridges
A.C. Buhler Family
Andis Foundation
Baird
Lucy G. Feller
Ben and Dawn Flegel
Annette Hirsh Family
J. Jeffers & Co.
Dorothy MacVicar
RDK Foundation

Jan Serr and John Shannon
Bronze Sponsors

Anonymous
Susan Boland
Virginia Buhler
Butcher & Barrel/Amos Los Tacos
Educators Credit Union
Express Employment Professionals
Get Behind the Arts Studio Tour
William A. Guenther
Tom and Sharon Harty
Tony and Andrea Hauser
David and Judy Hecker
Bradley Lynch
Carlotta Miller
Larry and Barbara Newman
The Norbell Foundation
The Prairie School
Georgiana Treivush
Twin Disc, Inc.
Deb and Will Walker

Love Art?  You’ll Love RAM!

The mission of the Racine Art Museum is to exhibit, collect, preserve, and educate in the contemporary visual arts. Stay up-to-date about special events as well as support the mission of the largest contemporary craft collection in America:

RECEIVE RAM NEWSLETTERS
BECOME A MEMBER
DONATE NOW