Whether referencing the landscape or architecture or both, metalsmith Eleanor Moty creates distinctive jewelry that poetically encompasses both wearer and viewer. Moty first gained recognition in the 1960s and 1970s for using cutting-edge fabrication techniques—such as electroplating and photo-etching—in adornment. She shifted her focus toward including stones in her work and the large-scale brooches she has been creating over the last couple of decades exemplify her dialogue with the “linear imagery” of quartz stones.
In essence, Moty’s elaborate and time-consuming process begins with finding the right stone—which a stonecutter has modified—and building from there. The artist engages with the tone, shape, and features of her chosen stone. Preferring brooches to other forms of jewelry, she remarks on their relatively self-contained nature: “Brooches needn’t be worn to be complete…Not having to fit the piece to the body…I can concentrate on the sculptural aspects.”
Moty has been applauded for her many contributions to the field, including a 28-year teaching career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—in a department she helped develop into one of the most well-regarded in the country.
With 12 pieces currently in the collection, including an early photo-etched hand mirror and brooches containing large quartzes, RAM ranks Moty as an archive artist. Featuring over 35 works, including several from RAM’s holdings as well as recently finished pieces, this exhibition owes its name to a recently-published monograph on the artist. It follows a similar arc to the book in representing Moty’s working career to date—over 50 years of making.
In addition to examples of her jewelry, the exhibition will include a video where Moty describes her process in-depth as well as sketches borrowed from the artist.
Quiet Elegance: The Jewelry of Eleanor Moty, published by Arnoldsche Art Publishers, is available through the RAM Museum Store.