Contemporary jewelry is doing OK. It does not need another pat on the back in the form of a 300-page book of images. When taking on the task of editor in 2010, Damian Skinner decided to treat Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective as an opportunity to examine jewelry as a mature, fully developed practice. Rather than propose yet another set of justifications for its existence, he led a project to provide instruments to navigate the spaces in which jewelry lives (Part 1), to understand the history of the field (Part 2), and to grasp some of the contentious issues that animate jewelry today (Part 3).
This joint lecture by Benjamin Lignel and Namita Wiggers, both contributors to Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective, Part 1, will look at the history of contemporary jewelry through the lens of some of its defining moments. Why was the critique of preciousness so important? What exactly is de-skilling, and does it herald the end of bench-based craft? Why is inheritance an issue for long-term preservation of contemporary jewelry?
Lignel and Wiggers will also discuss the spaces of contemporary jewelry, revealing how they are both found and invented as products of contemporary practice. We will show how such spaces are determined by maker’s willingness to appropriate them and to challenge the limits of what is historically “given.”
While we share some assumptions about contemporary jewelry, our positions as curator and editor/maker have colored, and to some extent polarized, how we think about the field. This lecture is meant to test our methodology and to better understand the functionality of the book as a user-friendly tool kit. The lecture will pick up selected tools in a non-linear presentation of a non-linear book with the goal of leaving the audience with the strange urge to burn, and then redraw the plinth on which contemporary jewelry sits.
This program is co-sponsored by Art Jewelry Forum and the MFA in Applied Craft + Design. A book signing will follow the lecture.