A View from the Jeweler’s Bench: Ancient Treasures, Contemporary Statements
A View from the Jeweler’s Bench: Ancient Treasures, Contemporary Statements, on view at Bard Graduate Center Gallery from February 14 through July 7, 2019, explores how contemporary jewelry makers are drawing from antique forms and techniques to create stunning works of art. Curated by Sasha Nixon, who received her mas¬ter’s degree from Bard Graduate Center in 2018, it has been developed from her qualifying paper, which she elected to satisfy with an exhibition proposal, and is pre¬sented by BGC in celebration of its 25th Anniversary.
A View from the Jeweler’s Bench focusses on how jewelry art¬ists create the final form of a piece at the jeweler’s bench, the place where jewelry is wrought by hand. To reveal this creation process, the exhibition revolves around a jeweler’s bench, where an ancient dapping block can be found, as well as a page from Diderot’s sixteenth-century encyclopedia and contemporary in-progress pieces. From there, a visitor can explore how contemporary makers continue to build on the legacy of the lure of ancient gold, cameos and memory, value and fashion, power and prestige, or archetypes and attachment.
Exhibition highlights include ancient Etruscan gold¬work, a Hellenistic antefix and wedding vase that depict jewelry being worn in antiquity, the Kul Oba brooch by the Castellani firm, the Wade necklace by Tiffany & Co., a nineteenth-century masterwork wrought in diamonds and platinum; and sentimental jewelry—which continue to emote long after leaving its original owners’ hands. These historic works accompany pieces by contemporary jewelry artists Ashley Buchanan, Jeanette Caines, Lin Cheung, Giovanni Corvaja, Mary Lee Hu, Gabriella Kiss, Otto Kunzli, emiko oye, Mary Hallam Pearse, Nicole Jacquard, Anya Kivarkis, and Kiff Slemmons.
By comparing recent pieces to their precedents, the exhibition considers how jewelry from the ancient world informs contemporary practice and illuminates the con¬nections between present and past—in terms of form, technique, and materials so that visitors can better see how artists are re-considering the art of adornment and age-old jewelry forms in exciting new ways.
Sasha Nixon is a curator, historian, and practicing metalsmith. She specializes in the study of contempo¬rary art jewelry, particularly on how individual artists are influenced by ancient and historical jewelry styles and techniques. She was the Center for Craft’s 2018 Windgate curatorial intern at the Museum of Arts and Design, co-curator of MAD’s exhibition, Fake News and True Love: Fourteen Stories by Robert Baines (October 2018–March 2019), and co-curator of the exhibition, ANTIQUEMANIA, presented at Pratt Manhattan during the inaugural New York City Jewelry Week (November 12–18, 2018). She is the recipient of the 2018 Society of North American Goldsmith’s emerging curators grant for A View from the Jeweler’s Bench.