Overheard by Damian Skinner

Art Jewelry Forum » Overheard.

I remember reading this bit by Damian Skinner, writer for Art Jewelry Forum and previous speaker at this year’s SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths). I was lucky enough to hear a brilliant talk by this man about how art or contemporary jewelry is regionalized and therefore visually designated to the area from which it comes.

This bit came in to mind while I was at the Museum of Art and Design and roughly summarizes topics that I found myself to be curious. I wrote about it in a previous post about material. I’ll preface the piece with this quote from Herman Jünger:

‘A piece of jewellery is incomplete without the person who is to wear it, who will identify with it and who wants to live with it. Art jewellery does not come alive until it is worn, borne around, and seen from near and far. For them it becomes a part of life and so much more than just an exhibit or an investment.’

August 13th, 2011 05:08


Damian Skinner

Overheard from a group of four women while visiting the Atelier Janiye and the Legacy of Master Jeweler Miye Matsukata exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts.

‘I would buy this one. I would buy this one too.’
‘I was going to buy this one, but it is in a private collection.’
‘I love this one.’
‘I like pins because my neck is not that long but pins I can handle.’
‘Oh, this would look nice on you.’
‘I have another necklace for you over here. This one is for you.’
Question: ‘Where would you wear it?’ Answer: ‘In bed, or to museums!’

Hearing these women talk about the jewelry on display made me wonder if this is a different kind of conversation to the one that would take place in front of fine art. Jewelry, in this instance, created a different opportunity for engagement, and seemed to overcome the distancing effects of the museum, encouraging these women to think about their relationship to the objects on display not as viewers but as wearer/owners.

Another woman, also visiting the exhibition but not part of the group, said to me, ‘Doesn’t it aggravate you when people in a museum talk like they are in their own homes?’ Here was a viewer wanting to uphold the attitudes of the museum as a space for reverent contemplation in the best Kantian tradition. I found myself disagreeing, pleased that jewelry had, at least for a moment, disrupted the isolating effects of the white cube, and the removal of these objects from the body and into the safety of the glass-covered vitrine.

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