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New Latin American Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on August 10, 2010

Exhibit at Museum of Arts and Design, New York City
Oct 12-Jan 11, 2011

This exhibit will feature the latest trends and movements through works by 50 jewelry artists, representing some 23 Latin American countries.

There is a history of relationships between jewelry worn and the culture within which it is worn.    This is as true in Latin America, as elsewhere.     So it is important to question the artist and his or her pieces, as to what the wearing of their jewelry would signify about their understanding of contemporary Latin America.

You would look at their choices of materials.  Their use of pattern, form, image and theme.    Their choices of colors.    Their techniques.

Some artists use traditional techniques and/or materials with modern references.   Others use modern techniques to express the interconnectedness of traditional and contemporary life.     Some are abstract; some literal.

There is always tremendous pressure on artists and fine craftspersons from traditional and developing societies to work within and preserve traditional images, motifs and techniques.   It is difficult to break out of and from those expectations.    Yet the artist wants to be able to express their artistic selves, their psychological, sociological and cultural beings, as members of contemporary societies that don’t bear as direct a connection with the past as outsiders would have it.

The relationships between contemporary Latin American society and traditions is much more complex today.   Will outsiders, like we in North America, ease up on these expectations, allow a contemporary jewelry artist scene to succeed?   The situation is no different than how we impose expectations upon our own contemporary Native American artists.      We make it so difficult for them to break from the past, and make some kind of living from their art, as they experience their world today.

Here are some of the Latin American artists, and images of things that might be on exhibit.

Mirla Fernandes (Brazil)

Dionea Rocha Watt (Brazil)

Claudia Cucchi (Brazil)

Valentina Rosenthal (Chile)

Elisa Gulminelli (Argentina)

Francisca Kweitel (Argentina)

Silvina Romero (Argentina)

Jorge Manilla (Mexico)

Mariana Shuk (Columbia)


If we are to judge these pieces with the added burden of the label “LATIN AMERICAN JEWELRY”, then I’m not sure how successful most of these pieces are.     If we are to judge them as simply “Contemporary Jewelry”, then most of these are very successful.

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