Friday, June 19, 2009

Ornament as Art

I've been a good mom this school year. I've chaperoned almost all, if not every single one, of the kids' field trips. Of course, that's because I'm lucky enough to be a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom, and because I love field trips! So yesterday being the next-to-last-day-of-the-school-year, I decided it was time for a field trip for Mama.

The third Thursday of the month is free admission day at the Tacoma Art Museum, and I'm a cheapskate, so I headed up to peek at one of TAM's newest exhibits, Ornament as Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection. The exhibit runs until September 13, 2009. I'm sure glad I did, and I know I'll be going back before it ends.

The only bummer, as you've probably figured out already, is that the museum does not allow cameras of any sort. I saw a guy with a photo press pass and kiddingly asked him if he could take some pics with my camera for me...he looked kind of rattled until I told him I wasn't really going to hold him to it - I wouldn't want him to lose his press pass on my account!

It was amazing to see all of the different pieces of jewelry, which were presented not as jewelry, but as art.

Earrings were not included in the exhibit because, according to the docent I spoke with, the intent of the exhibit was to display jewelry that stands on its own and makes a statement. Earrings don't make much of a statement unless they're worn. OK, I guess I can accept that. I don't have to like it, but I can accept it.

So I saw bracelets and rings and collars and sleeves and pendants and brooches. There was a gold index finger and a gold nose, both by Gerd Rothman. No kidding. I guess you could use Silly Putty to adhere the nose to your face or something. You'd be definitely making a statement wearing that next time you go grocery shopping. And hey, what about that gold finger? (cue James Bond music...)

Mixed media pieces by the truckload...thank goodness I'm not the only one enchanted with putting odd things together!

While everything I saw was amazing and wonderful, I think my very most favorite pieces were the collaborative mixed media narrative brooches using found objects and many different techniques, created by Robin Kranitzky & Kim Overstreet. Donald Paul Tompkins' medals commemorating the lives of Janis Joplin, Jackson Pollock, and Minnesota Fats were also some of my faves. I couldn't resist adding Bernhard Schobinger's ring to my favorites list, Lipstick for Neanderthal Woman, made using copper, carborundum, silver and gold. The sparkly carborundum sticks up out of the ring, like lipstick emerging from its case. Wish I could find you a picture.

Yes, there were gold and silver and gemstones galore...but I saw a huge number of diverse materials used as well, which reminds me of how Faberge' and his colleagues worked - they treated every material used, even the mundane, as precious and finished it beautifully. Here's a quick list of some of the materials used:

  • deer antler
  • mizuhiki cord
  • books
  • wood - many different varieties
  • rubber
  • nylon monofilament
  • cotton
  • silk
  • acrylic paint
  • plastic
  • steel - stainless, blackened
  • brass
  • glass eyes
  • plastic teeth
  • titanium
  • slate
  • nickel
  • rope
  • Prismacolor pencils
  • onion skin
  • foam
  • fishnet
  • acrylic
  • eggshells
  • ivory
  • ebony
  • stone
  • PVC
  • postcards
  • lead
  • Japanese lacquer (urushi)
  • Washi paper
  • ink
  • iron
  • mercury gilding (eeek...sounds dangerous...)
  • cardboard - flat, corrugated
  • resin
  • copper
  • alpaca
  • abalone (paua)

If you're in the area, I encourage you to check out the exhibit before it ends September 13, won't regret it!


Peg said...

I can't get over those mixed-media brooches! Thanks for the link. Maybe we need to collaborate on some stuff!

Chris said...

Aren't they awesome? And yes, we definitely DO need to collaborate on MORE stuff (remember the charm bracelet we did?!?)