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People Don’t Care About Ideas, They Just Like Cool Objects

Article  /  Critical Thinking
Published: 13.06.2006
People Don’t Care About Ideas, They Just Like Cool Objects.
Author:
Sakurako Shimizu
Edited at:
New York
Edited on:
2006

Intro
Is jewelry an art form? ‘Jewelry’ is no doubt a confusing term. Simple words like ‘ornament’, ‘design’ and ‘craft’ all seem to fail in describing this highly hybrid discipline.

Text for the group exhibition
"People Don’t Care About Ideas, They Just Like Cool Objects"
curated by Sakurako Shimizu.


Is jewelry an art form? ‘Jewelry’ is no doubt a confusing term. Simple words like ‘ornament’, ‘design’ and ‘craft’ all seem to fail in describing this highly hybrid discipline. In fact it is the conceptual content that is becoming more and more the focus of contemporary work in the field. Traditionally a symbol of status, social identity and embodiment of monetary value, jewelry has also served commemorative and amuletic functions. It operated within the discourse of formal design, taste, and precious material.

Creative jewelry or so called studio jewelry started in the 1950s both in North America and Europe by individuals who often trained in art schools. The geometric, abstract forms of the Art Deco style were influenced by the functional forms of technology and engineering, often translated into organic patterns. Simple, clean designs of modernist jewelry largely originated from Bauhaus theory.

The phenomenon of New Jewelry occurred in the 1960’s, as a new generation of artists/jewelers challenged traditional concepts of jewelry as a status symbol and means of sexual stereotyping. Radical forms and non-precious, mundane materials such as paper, wood, steel, aluminum, plastic and rubber were discovered and employed.

This new approach to jewelry introduced themes critiquing status, economic power, and body image as well as a crucial self-examination of the discipline itself, involving issues of preciousness, beauty and history.

For the seven artists in this exhibition, material/formal/technical experiments are not the main focus of their work. Andreas Zidek’s and Amelia Toelke’s works explore the possible social function of jewelry as a communicative object initiating dialog between the viewer and the wearer. Casts by Mary Pearse comment on jewelry as a conveyer of personal memories. Andrew Phares and uses jewelry to critique American culture and deconstruct our collective unconscious, while Shella Robinson focuses on the teenage rituals that mark a rite of passage or show an affiliation to a group/identity. Conceptual analysis of the medium itself seems to be the subject of Melissa Tolar’s work, which juxtaposes precious and cheap/mass produced materials. Rings by Sakurako Shimizu use a very traditional form in order to link various living entities with metal conceptually through their common property of weight.

These works expose common threads currently fermenting in the field of art jewelry, placing it surprisingly close to general fine-art practice. Or perhaps they simply signal the obsolescence of traditional boundaries between artistic genera and a need for more unified vocabulary.


This is the text for the group exhibition "People Don’t Care About Ideas, They Just Like Cool Objects", curated by Sakurako Shimizu.
Presented at VertexList space with the following artists: Mary Pearse, Andrew J. Phares, Shella Robinson, Amelia Toelke, Melissa Tolar, Sakurako Shimizu and Andreas Zidek.
On show Saturday, July 09 from 7-10 pm and continued until July 31, 2005.

References

Piece by: Andrew, J. Phares
Found rubber and ceramics objects, colored modeling compound, paint
 
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