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Is Jewelry Making an Art?


#1

Was: Smithsonian jury results

For some people just having the time to look at "art" and baubles
-much less discussing "concepts" on thousand dollar computers for
hours at a time - is unimaginable. They are busy scratching the
dirt- to plant the crops that will maybe let them live another
season... 

Double OUCH !! Brian Marshall hit many nails on the head in his
posting, but this one sure puts everything in perspective. We should
all thank our lucky stars that we can do what we do, but in the grand
scheme of things, it may not ultimately amount to much.

Since I originally raised the question as to whether wearability
should be a jury criterion, this thread has taken some funny twists
and turns. Maybe it just comes down to this: Art is in the eye of the
beholder.

Allan Mason
www.silvermason.com


#2
the very definition of plagiarism. Picking up a rock (again) is
one thing. Taking someone else's art and plugging it into "your
own" (as though that's art) is unconscionable. 

And how is this different from you or me taking a stone cut by
someone else and putting it in to a ring we make? Or taking a set a
beads and stringing them to make a necklace?

Norman
Howling Studios


#3
For me it is the intention behind the jewel and the successful
communication of that intent (not it's daily
wearability/salability) that indicates it is art. 

Why can’t the intention and the successful communication of it be
combined with wearability? Notice I didn’t include salability, as I
have made jewelry that is wearable that I think communicates a
concept, but is not too salable due to price.

Alana Clearlake


#4
I can't define art but I know it when I see it"....to mutilate the
supreme court justice, sorry 

I’m wondering if the ‘what is art’ debate has something to do with
trying to legitimize what one does. If we have lofty goals for art,
on the order of art having social significance, human
commentary…that might suggest that the great majority of jewelery
is not art. It might be artisticly done, it might take talent and
skill, it might even ‘look’ like art. What’s the social relevance of
a tennis bracelet, or a solitaire diamond ring? None? Well, maybe
even in those mundane jewelery items there is comment. But perhaps
by the wearer more so than the creator.

So if one has lofty goals for art, and one considers oneself to be a
jewelery artist…is there a subtle ego motivation going on there?
Turning that around…if one considers every human creation to be art
is it proper to conclude “I am an artist by default rather than
intention”?

I dunno, it all swirls around like a starscape on LSD. constellation
consternation. Hand me that Krause bur, wouldya? And some 18K hard
solder please.

Ah, my bench. My fortress, my home, my solice.

My identity.


#5

I have been reading the pros and cons of what is ART in the forum.
Seems to me that Art is something an individual has a burning desire
to produce and another individual has a burning desire to possess it
when they feel or see it. Whether it is worn, gazed upon or felt (if
you are blind). To me Art represents and stimulates feelings of an
otherwise inexpressible nature that match something inside of the
appreciater,(viewer or would be buyer) then it is Art, mediocre or
grand.

I include music as an Art, also. I don’t speak a foreign language,
but a soaring Aria sends my spirit wildly soaring along with the
singer, or a Sousa March, my spirit thrills to the beat. A well
executed design in gems and metal inspire me to improve my work, to
better my self, and perhaps buy it to adorn myself if it’s something
beyond my own capabilities and skills to produce.

Confining Art in some sort of box label is punitive and stifles the
human spirit and it’s remarkable ability to bring forth Art in it’s
many forms for our pleasure, enlightment and entertainment, and yes,
to even console us during during those inconsoleable moments of
life. Loosen up a little, folks. Encourage each other to not strangle
this wonderful gift of self expression. You don’t have to buy it if
you don’t like it!

Joyce


#6

Yes Jewelry making is an art.

Jerry


#7
Its a drive we all have, some expound on it more than others. Some
have better execution than others with the skillsets they have.... 

Every fool knows that we can’t touch the stars but a wise man
understands that we have to try…

As I've said, craftsmanship is of serious import in my life and
work. But I can't see drawing such strict parameters as to what it
is applied to, 

You see Andy, I told you there’s really nothing to disagree about. I
do know quite a lot about art, and I say that as a way to say that I
understand the diversity and fathomlessness of it. There is a certain
constraint in typing messages on a forum - sort of a "sound bite"
thing. Color? How did you think Picasso got all those colors? Not at
Art-To-Go. And, once again I will say that I have no objection to
people using whatever materials they choose as raw materials. Your
message, whether you realize or not, conveys a confusion between raw
materials and simply using something one found as a finished product.
My objection - perhaps reluctance is better - is to someone, as in
Kimberly’s Barbie Doll story, who just picks up stuff, pins it on a
wall and calls it their own, probably because they thought up a
catchy title for it. Once upon a time there was a meaning to that -
expanding the meaning of art and all. At this point it’s simply lazy.
And my entire tilt on this whole thing is, What do we choose to show
in our major venues as a representation of our culture’s art? I
maintain, and yes not everyone will agree with me, that we should
give precedence to those who actually make new things, not those who
are merely using other people’s things (face it) and calling them
their own. Finally, I’m always cognizant of the fact that there are
some thousands of Orchidians lurking and learning every day, and I’m
trying to convey to them, “reach higher, dig deeper”.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#8

This may be turning the subject slightly, but I am curious and have
a question - to the people who insist that jewelry cannot be Art, is
Photography Art?

Grace


#9

Why such black and white thinking? Can’t jewelry sometimes be art?

In a word no. It's that simple. 
Why so? I'd love a more thoughtful and certainly less dismissive
answer. Just saying so doesn't make it (not) so. I really don't
think that it is, in fact, that simple. 

I am not the original poster of the comment (!!!) but I can’t help
but respond…

If jewelry cannot be art, then perhaps nothing can. Does the poster
believe that there is such a thing as art?

There are things that cannot be art… things produced by any source
other than Man, for example. But no thinking person could believe
that a metal object that stands on the floor or a table can be art
(think Rodin, Donatello, LaChaise, Picasso, Calder, whatever flavor
you favor) but a metal object that can be worn on the body cannot
be. This is an irrational statement. Therefore, either the comment
comes from an irrational person, in which case discussion is
irrelevant and impossible, or the remark was intended to see whose
chain could be jerked in the name of stimulating discussion.

Either way, I think it is a poor way to behave on a forum such as
this, but it’s a free country, um, forum.

Noel


#10

For most of my life, I tried to find a definition of “Art” as it
applied to jewellery. I’ve settled on the concept of the jewel. When
does jewellery become a jewel? In gemstones a jewel is a stone that
is so exceptional that it creates a profound emotion in the observer.
If you see one, you never forget it. But here is the point that I
want
to make: You remember that the jewel excited you, but you cannot
recreate the emotional feeling it generated in your mind, you can
only feel the emotion when you are in the presence of the object
that creates it in you.

Here is another example: When you leave an exceptional performance
of a symphony orchestra, you are literally walking on air. Your
emotional state is so high that you want to stop everyone you meet
and tell them to attend the next performance, However by the next day
the emotion has died down and you only remember how fantastic you
felt. With each passing day that emotion diminishes. The next time
you attend a performance you experience the emotion again, and you
are
amazed that you had forgotten how wonderful it felt. The jewel does
the same thing to us. It has an emotional impact that is generated by
its exceptional quality. In order for this to happen there has to be
something very rare involved, in a gemstone the rarity is usually
colour. The human brain doesn’t remember colour very well, it
recognizes colour, When it experiences exceptional red, blue or green
in a perfect gemstone the emotional response is almost electric. To a
large degree this is due to the rarity of this colour experience.
Nature doesn’t produce pure perfect red, blue or green very often,
and in big gems almost never. If it did, the experience would be
common and we would not react to it as strongly. Thus the requirement
for rarity in the generation of an exceptional emotional event.

In a symphonic experience there is magic in the perfect execution of
a complex performance, it is a performing art. Any noticeable flaw
and the magic does not happen. When you hear the older masters
complain that there are no jewellers anymore, that jewelmaking is
dying, what you are hearing is their lament that the ability to
create exceptional jewellery, rich emotional creations, is lost
because the talent, discipline, training and perfection of master
craftsmanship has not been pasted on. Jewellery that generates a
powerful emotion every time you see it, hold it and wear it, an
emotion that creates a powerful impact in all who experience it, is
difficult to make. It is an attempt to push all of the limits in an
effort to create the exceptional, When it succeeds the result is a
jewel. Rarity, importance, significance and beauty are words that may
apply. That human hands and a mind can visualize the creation of a
high emotional state from the manipulation of metals, forms,
mechanics and colour is a magical idea. When it happens, I believe
the result is art.

When I receive a piece that I made years ago, when I open the
package and I am surprised by the thrill that I feel when I see, hold
and manipulate my work, I know that I have made art.

Dennis Smith - Jewelmaker


#11

Let me help you out.

Any creative process where certain craftsmen skills involved is
already art. The jewelry is and art and craft with precious stones
and metals that’s all. It is an art form and good one…


#12

If jewelry cannot be art, then perhaps nothing can. Does the poster
believe that there is such a thing as art? “Grand-Scale Lawn Art
Stirs a Debate in Connecticut”…Headline in New York Times, Jan. 5,
2007 In Fairfield, Connecticut,the controversy revolves around the
status of a ‘40-ton wavelike structure made of concrete,steel and
lead’ resting behind a row of shrubs on the front lawn of the
waterfront estate of two art collectors. The 80-foot-long,
4-foot-high recumbent object is considered a structure by the town
authorities, requiring a certificate of appropriateness. The work was
created by artist Anselm Kiefer, of international renown. The
neighbors don’t seem too bothered by it, but the town is up in arms
about that certificate of appropriateness, insisting that the
sculpture is a structure.

In the words of a Connecticut native who climbed out of his car to
view the sculpture “I am the first to agree that art is in the eyes
of its creator and the viewer”, he wrote in an e-mail message, “but
honestly, that thing looks like a bad chunk of Interstate 95.”

And the argument goes on…

Dee


#13

Personally, I think art is a visual expression of a metaphor.
Conceptual jewelry, unwearable jewelry is an expression of art. Art
also needs intent.

Say there is a large room. 50 ft x 50 ft. In the room is one tiffany
diamond ring. Is that art? Was the ring intentionally placed there
or just lost. Now with the ring on the floor, you place a wedding
dress and a bouquet of flowers. Your brain says, what happened here?
Did the bride die? Did she leave and not want to become married? This
becomes a rather powerful statement. It has intent. It has metaphor,
and for me, it is art.

If a simple band ring holds a simple set stone with a bezel, then,
no, for me, it is not art.

Art is as subjective and as misunderstood as the concept of love.
Art provokes an emotional response and not everyone likes the same
thing. Is photography an art? Oh, you bet. Sculpture? Sure. Is a
perfect reproduction of a fine piece of furniture art? Maybe. Is a
platinum flute art? No. It is fine craft.

Is a Chinese Scholars Rock art? Many critics think so. What makes a
Scholars Rock art, but a natural mineral specimen not art. Don’t
know. I would like to ask an art critic that one.

If I see a VanCleef and Arpels trackless broach with rubies,
diamonds and other small stones, which are created in the form of a
bouquet of flowers, is that art? Yes, for me it is. It is using
stones and precious metal with the intent to capture an image of
nature.

I love pushing boundaries and edges of art. I’m working on a
commission with five oval opals; tiny little suckers. I had to come
up with a design using these stones. This for me becomes the process
of creating a sonnet in the form of jewelry. The recipient is from
Brazil, so my design is incorporating his travels to Australia to
pick up the opals, and druzy from her homeland. I’m combining the
opal and druzy earrings with my style of granulation. It is meant to
be wearable, but the whole design process, the metaphor of joining
three continents together to make a jewelry suite works artistically
for me.

Now is the making, the CRAFTSMANSHIP an art? Debatable by some, for
me yes and no. When you go out to a fine restaurant and the food is
arranged perfectly on your plate with color and style, is it art? If
it is beautifully arranged but tastes terrible, is that art? Is there
an art to cooking well, raising decent and ethical children? Is it
the same kind of art?

So, what is art?

-k

M E T A L W E R X
School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854
www.metalwerx.com


#14
If we have lofty goals for art, on the order of art having social
significance, human commentary...that might suggest that the great
majority of jewelery is not art. 

I’m one who’s posted here about the futility of the the debate at
all, and I don’t care to go there. I will confess to subscribing to
the above statement up to the human commentary part, though, in
general, and I wonder if Neil has found the dividing line that makes
many think, “That’s art and that’s not.”

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#15
http://www.wartski.com Ditto 

This site has one selection for “Silver and WORKS OF ART” oops!!
Interesting

Rose


#16
That human hands and a mind can visualize the creation of a high
emotional state from the manipulation of metals, forms, mechanics
and colour is a magical idea. When it happens, I believe the result
is art. When I receive a piece that I made years ago, when I open
the package and I am surprised by the thrill that I feel when I
see, hold and manipulate my work, I know that I have made art. 

I’m not sure if all that Dennis says is going to define all art for
all people, but I think he nails it pretty well. And I think it’s
important to make the distinction between thinking and feeling - and
also that feeling that bad art can evoke - laughing because something
is so awful is not “evoking feelings” in the same sense. And I also
have had the experience of getting an old piece of mine for rehab or
something, seeing it, and saying, “Wow, I made that?” Well said,
Dennis…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#17

Isn’t it true that to attribute “art status” to jewellery is not
really doing jewellery any favours, considering what is regarded as
Art over recent decades…such as:

  1. Video installation showing the shower scene from Psycho in ultra
    slow motion,
  2. Tracey Emin’s unmade and somewhat soiled bed.
  3. Any variation on the shark/cow/human in formaldehyde in a display
    case scenario.
  4. A heap of bricks.
  5. A room full of balloons.

and those are just the first examples that come to mind…not that
I don’t think these are worthy efforts to educate, enlighten and
entertain us all …my point is that when we talk of art, I think we
tend to have an ideal in mind, rather than the reality of what now is
acceptable as art…we envisage a sort of Leonardo / Michaelangelo /
Picasso/ Van Gogh / Turner / Constable / Rembrandt / Rodin / Monet /
sort of thing as embodying Art…whereas now it appears that
anything put on public display that has a developed, critically
acceptable conceptual back-story to it, can be presented as
art…whereas jewellery does have to be made with a degree of skill
and craftsmanship, but doesn’t necessarily have the
back-story…just a realised design concept…maybe it’s a question
of terminology…is ham the same as bacon? It’s all pig to me! Happy
New Year to all

Steve Holden
www.platayflores.com


#18
I'm wondering if the 'what is art' debate has something to do with
trying to legitimize what one does. If we have lofty goals for
art, on the order of art having social significance, human
commentary...that might suggest that the great majority of
jewelery is not art. It might be artisticly done, it might take
talent and skill, it might even 'look' like art. What's the social
relevance of a tennis bracelet, or a solitaire diamond ring? None?
Well, maybe even in those mundane jewelery items there is comment.
But perhaps by the wearer more so than the creator. 

What is the social commentary in Monet’s lily pond paintings, or
Jackson Pollack’s splats? Art need not be social commentary. Art is
that which is above and beyond the utilitarian and speaks to the
aesthetic sense.

So if one has lofty goals for art, and one considers oneself to be
a jewelery artist....is there a subtle ego motivation going on
there? Turning that around...if one considers every human creation
to be art is it proper to conclude "I am an artist by default
rather than intention"? 

Actually, yes. Go back far enough in history and “artist” was not a
distinct job description. It was what people did after they had
secured food, shelter and safety. Perhaps it is a reflection of the
compartmentalization and commodification of everything that art is
now so separate from most people that we don’t even know what it is.

Lee


#19

Dennis,

When does jewellery become a jewel? In gemstones a jewel is a
stone that is so exceptional that it creates a profound emotion in
the observer. If you see one, you never forget it.

What a wonderful and insightful post. I think you’ve hit the nail on
the head in terms of what differentiates Art in jewelry from mere
"accessory" pieces. Note, I’m not using the term costume here to
differentiate from so-called “fine jewelry,” but rather just run of
the mill pieces that exhibit no particular artistry (fine
Tiffany-style engagement rings included).

It also explains why I am so BORED by walking down the street and
looking in the windows in the diamond district in NYC. On the entire
block, I might see 2 or 3 pieces that catch the eye (usually in the
estate sales) and the rest are “just another diamond stuck into a
piece of uninspired metal” with the point of the piece frequently
being the size/number of diamonds they could manage to include in it.
Oh look, another diamond. Wow. No emotional response.

Thank you for putting into words such a difficult concept to convey!

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs


#20

Hello - I just had to reply to the subject: Is Jewelry Art

It appears there are other subjects about being Art! Just received
the new February Discover Magazine…On page 66 entitled Reviews,
there is an article: ART of Doilies and Disease. A quote “Everything
has its beauty, but not everyone sees it,” said Confucius.

“Two sculptors are uncovering beauty in unexpected places.” Look at
steel-bronze works of Bathseba Grossman (www.bathsheba.com) who
states she is an artist and makes sculptures from the microscopic
world. Also Laura Splan (www.laurasplan.com), “swathes scientific
observation in elegance. Inspired by microbiology, Splan has crafted
what are perhaps the world’s creepiest doilies”.

I wish I had the drawings of cells my half-brother did in college
while he was studying to be a Pharmacist. Those kinds of drawings are
very inspiring.

Rose