|RAM Features Contemporary Jewelry
by New Zealand Artists
Lynn Kelly, Rosehip Rosary (detail), 2007
Gold-plated sterling silver, rosehips and thread
Photography: Studio La Gonda, New Zealand
The Racine Art Museum welcomes Pocket Guide to New Zealand Jewelry, open through October 23, 2011. This exhibition is an engaging survey of contemporary jewelry made by artists intimately connected to a country that is both socially and culturally similar to and different from the United States. Organized by Velvet da Vinci Gallery and curated by New Zealand art historian, Damian Skinner, Pocket Guide underscores the aesthetic, material and theoretical elements that give New Zealand jewelry its distinctive flavor.
During the Second World War, American troops in New Zealand were issued a concise guide to familiarize themselves with the country in which they were stationed. Published by the War and Navy Departments in 1943, Pocket Guide to New Zealand was a descriptive guide to the history, culture, peoples and language of New Zealand.
Reassuring readers that New Zealanders were a pioneering society who had been "seeing our movies, listening to our radio, and reading our magazines," the Pocket Guide to New Zealand concluded that its readers would meet "a people with some of the British reserve, with many British methods and institutions, but with American outspokenness and directness - plus a working knowledge of American slang."
Five decades later, the Pocket Guide to New Zealand Jewelry continues this tradition of cultural exchange, introducing a new generation of Americans to contemporary jewelry made, as the original guide put it, "deep in the heart of the south seas." This exhibition is an indispensable introduction to a country that continues to transform cultural influences from England, Europe and America into jewelry that American audiences will find both familiar and strange.
The seventeen jewelers whose works are included in this exhibition play with a wide range of media and varied subject matter. For example, Jane Dodd presents a map that is convertible-assembled in its box, it appears to be an assortment of tiles imprinted with New Zealand topography, but when unfolded the tiles serve as pendants for a neckpiece. Jason Hall's Faceted Diamond is sculpted out of greenstone, an indigenous type of jade favored as a material for jewelry before the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand. Other artists represented are: Fran Allison, Pauline Bern, Renee Bevan, Kobi Bosshard, Octavia Cook, Andrea Daly, Peter Deckers, Warwick Freeman, Niki Hastings-McFall, Lynn Kelly, Peter McKay, Alan Preston, Lisa Walker, Anna Wallis and Areta Wilkinson.
Pocket Guide to New Zealand Jewelry is made possible at Racine Art Museum by: Presenting Sponsors - Karen Johnson Boyd and William B. Boyd, RAM Society Members, Jay Price Ruffo, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., The Hearst Foundation, Inc. and Windgate Charitable Foundation; Gold Sponsors - Helen Bader Foundation, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, Racine Community Foundation, Inc., Racine United Arts Fund and Wisconsin Arts Board; Silver Sponsors - Cotsen Foundation for Academic Research, Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation, Real Racine and W.T. Walker Group, Inc.; Bronze Sponsors - Clifton Gunderson LLP, CNH America LLC, E.C. Styberg Foundation, Inc., Friends of Fiber Art International, In Sink Erator and Knight-Barry Title, Inc.