Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st Century, which opens at the Katonah Museum of Art (KMA), Katonah, NY on October 21, 2018, reimagines the traditional boundaries that for so many centuries have defined body ornamentation.
Jane Adlin, former curator of modern and contemporary design at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, brings together approximately 45 bold, unique, and innovative pieces of jewelry that broaden our expectations of personal adornment.
"Jewelry, in one form or another, has been around since the beginning of time," Adlin explained. "From prehistoric evidence of body decoration made from found materials such as shells and bone, to Egyptian, Grecian and Roman use of newly invented material such as glass, to Renaissance artisans' use of vibrant stones and gem-set gold, jewelry has always been a cultural signifier."
Rather than focusing solely on materials and process, this distinctive exhibition asks whether jewelry is even defined by its wearability. Works like Marjorie Schick's neckpiece Spiraling over the Line and Ted Noten's iconic unwearable acrylic handbag defy notions of jewelry sitting neatly on the body.
The objects in Outrageous Ornament come from a diverse range of creators, both traditional jewelers and interdisciplinary practitioners from the fields of art, architecture, design, fashion, science and technology. Renowned contemporary artists John Baldessari, Mary Heilmann and Cristina Iglesias have expanded their practice to explore art designed to be worn on the body. Jewelers Melanie Bilenker, Lola Brooks and Bettina Speckner turn to the past for inspiration, while Märta Mattsson and Naama Bergman use unusual materials, such as crushed cicadas and salt, in novel ways. Many of the works, including those by Iris van Herpen, Danyi Zhu, Gregory Larin, and Lauren Kalman stretch the relationship between adornment and the human body, as well as the way it holds, responds to and plays with the human form.
Photo: Gary Pollmiller