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 in 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