A generative function of public historical collections is to influence new generations of artists, often in unpredictable ways. At the Walters Art Museum, a vast array of historical jewelry serves to inspire Baltimore’s growing contemporary jewelry community, and this year the Baltimore Jewelry Center (BJC) worked directly with the Walters collection and curatorial staff.
The result was a new series of art jewelry featured in an exhibition titled Artifactual Remakes (December 3, 2021– Feburary 5, 2022), part of BJC’s annual symposium series featuring free workshops, demonstrations, and speaker series, all related the history of jewelry, the designated theme.
Since the historical items come from a wide variety of cultures and time periods, contemporary jewelry artists were free to engage with them formally and conceptually, with particular deference to material culture, an opportunity to employ specific types of materials, craftsmanship, and skills.
After viewing the exhibition in the BJC gallery, we wanted to further activate the jewelry through its intended purpose: to be worn. Selected artists graciously allowed us to borrow their work for models Micah A. Russell and Safra Tadesse to wear in the Clipper Mill photography studio of E. Brady Robinson. The resulting images reflect the power of the contemporary pieces and allude to the historic items that inspired them, realized in new works of art: photos that recognize the value of both in collaboration.
Participating artists include Jackie Andrews, Mara Colecchia, Nicole Dest-Forrester, Caitlin Duckwall, Luci Jockel, Andy Lowrie, Kerianne Quick, Sarah Parker, Risa Reyes, and Ashlee Wetta.