If Jewels Could Talk: A New Show in Boise Assembles an Array of Artful Jewelry, Rich with Narratives

The latest group exhibition at Boise’s Brumfield’s Gallery, “Narrative Jewelry,” presents an array of highly intricate and delicately fashioned—yet infinitely wearable—treasures. Concocted by a collection of seven highly-respected fine jewelers, the exquisite pieces run the gamut from the austere to gothic. However, reduced in material scale, the relic-like nature of these objects resonates with the gallery’s broader visual art program—both in their sculptural and aesthetic expression of human sentiment, and their ultimate (imaginative) fusion of art and craft.

Design duo Robin Kranitzky and Kim Overstreet’s bricolage brooches invoke a wondrous, 19th-century curiosity for the mechanical ministration of abstract events. Manifest in a series of complex mixed-media shadow box badges, these objets d’art combine, for example, crushed mother of pearl, vintage wallpaper, and dried flowers in mystical compositions of surreal terror and delight. In Blemish (2014), an obsidian-hued, peering eyeball watches over a stray string of spiked and tooth-like ivory closing in on the powder box’s seemingly innocent contents. These miniature dioramas (such as Torrent, 2014) draw on the tradition of American artists as diverse as Joseph Cornell and Llyn Foulkes. By contrast, Rebecca Rose’s towering sterling silver rings cast their compact, yet playful stories in a single metal, while Nancy Worden’s geometric necklaces in brass, silver, and bone marry an appreciation for modernism’s formality with the spectral, almost spiritual quality of early photography. 

Narrative Jewelry” is on view at Brumfield’s Gallery, Boise, Idaho, July 12th–Sept. 6th, 2014.

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