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Amer­i­can Jew­elry De­sign Coun­cil - 25 Years of De­sign

Wen the Amer­i­can Jew­elry De­sign Coun­cil (AJDC) was formed in 1988, its mem­bers were con­cerned with as­sert­ing their own le­git­i­macy as artists. In­deed, the or­gan­i­sa­tion, a non-profit ed­u­ca­tional cor­po­ra­tion, was cre­ated with the aim of fos­ter­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion for jew­ellery de­sign as art and prov­ing that Amer­i­can de­sign­ers could make jew­ellery that ri­valled that of the Euro­pean tra­di­tion.

Twenty-five years later, a ret­ro­spec­tive show that brought to­gether work by over 40 AJDC mem­bers de­buted at New York’s cel­e­brated Forbes Gal­leries, oc­cu­py­ing a space that had, for years, housed the world’s largest col­lec­tion of Fabergé jew­ellery. It was a sym­bolic tri­umph for a group of de­sign­ers who had by now at­tained a long-sought recog­ni­tion.

That ret­ro­spec­tive show, which opened in Septem­ber 2013, was “Vari­a­tions on a Theme: 25 Years of De­sign.” Now the show will be ex­hib­ited at the Kent State Univer­sity Mu­seum in Kent, Ohio, be­gin­ning Oc­to­ber 23, 2014. The show will re­main open at the Kent State Univer­sity Mu­seum through April 26, 2015.

“Vari­a­tions on a Theme” is so named be­cause it col­lects work from the AJDC’s an­nual de­sign projects, which chal­lenge mem­bers to cre­ate work based on a common theme that

changes year to year.”

“Vari­a­tions on a Theme” is so named be­cause it col­lects work from the AJDC’s an­nual de­sign projects, which chal­lenge mem­bers to cre­ate work based on a common theme that changes year to year. Themes may be el­e­men­tal (“wa­ter,” “ice”) or geo­met­ric (“sphere,” “spi­ral”), sug­ges­tive of an ac­tion (“flight”), rit­ual (“peek­a­boo”) or cul­tural ref­er­ent (“Mona Lisa”).

One of the great joys of the ex­hi­bi­tion — in ad­di­tion to the craft and in­ge­nu­ity of each in­di­vid­ual piece of jew­ellery — lies in ob­serv­ing the di­verse re­sponses a given theme elicited. The theme “wheel” re­turned a body of work span­ning the au­to­mo­bile, in­ter­lock­ing gears and a child’s pin­wheel. “Key” yielded not only an old-fash­ioned skele­ton key but also a bar­code etched into a sil­ver ring. “Tear” in­spired jew­ellery at­tached to ei­ther sense of the word (a syn­onym for “rip” and a drop of fluid shed from the eyes) as well as both senses at the same time.

“Vari­a­tions on a Theme” is a doc­u­ment of the evo­lu­tion of an art form, trac­ing the out­put of AJDC artists across decades. One of the AJDC’s foun­da­tional goals was to rein­tro­duce artis­tic in­ven­tive­ness in con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can jew­ellery mak­ing. As coun­cil mem­ber George Sawyer writes

in the ex­hi­bi­tion cat­a­logue, the Amer­i­can jew­ellery in­dus­try of the 1980s was “dom­i­nated by man­u­fac­tur­ers who did not con­sider orig­i­nal de­sign to be even a mi­nor com­po­nent of the ‘prod­uct’. Dis­tinc­tive de­sign and artis­tic con­tent were con­sid­ered risky and an ir­rel­e­vant added ex­pense.”

The an­nual de­sign projects high­light the in­di­vid­ual ap­proaches of each of the AJDC artists. Ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques ap­pear, dis­ap­pear and resur­face over time; ideas tran­scend spe­cific themes. In to­tal, “Vari­a­tions on a Theme” col­lects 167 pieces of jew­ellery by 41 artists re­spond­ing to 19 years of an­nual de­sign projects from 1995 to 2013. Those artists are: Sandy Baker, Jane Bo­han, Whit­ney Boin, Michael Bon­danza, Pe­tra Class, Ja­clyn David­son, Falcher Fusager, Ge­of­frey Giles, Cor­nelia Gold­smith, Michael Good, Sarah Gra­ham, Alis­han Halebian, Ron Hart­grove, Bar­bara Hein­rich, Susan Helmich, José Hess, Cornelis Hollander, John Iversen, Scott Keat­ing, Christo Kif­fer, Paul Klecka, Steven Kretch­mer, Pas­cal Lacroix, An­thony Lent, Linda MacNeil, Gre­goré Morin, Adam Nee­ley, Mark Pat­ter­son, Jen­nifer Rabe Morin, Kent Raible, Paul Ro­bilotti, Todd Reed, Alan Re­vere, Susan Sadler, George Sawyer, Mark Sch­nei­der, Wil­liam Schraft, Tina Se­gal, Diana Vincent, Takashi Wada and Bar­bara West­wood.

The Kent State Univer­sity Mu­seum houses one of the largest col­lec­tions of con­tem­po­rary and his­toric fash­ion in the United States. Mean­while, the closely al­lied Fash­ion School at Kent State ranks among the top in the na­tion. The mu­seum has eight gal­leries with chang­ing exhibitions that cover a wide range of sub­jects. Cur­rently the exhibitions in­clude “En­tan­gled: Fiber to Felt to Fash­ion”; “The Great War: Women and Fash­ion in a World at War, 1912 – 1922”; and “A Time­line of Fash­ion”, which places ob­jects from the col­lec­tion in their his­tor­i­cal con­text. Wel­com­ing vis­i­tors from around the world, the mu­seum serves as a cul­tural gate­way to the univer­sity.

Diana Vincent,

“Wave Neck­lace” Ster­ling sil­ver, di­a­mond.

Susan Sadler,

“Lazy Cir­cles in the Sky Brooch” Plat­inum, di­a­mond.

Mark Sch­nei­der,

“Pa­per Air­plane Pin” White gold, 18-karat yel­low gold, di­a­mond, ruby.

Pas­cal Lacroix,

“Metaphor” 18-karat yel­low gold, red gold, green gold, white gold, di­a­mond.

Alan Re­vere,

“Up, Up and Away Ki­netic Ring” Yel­low gold, rose gold, plat­inum, di­a­mond, ball bear­ing.

Michael Good, “Pen­dant” Pati­nated bronze, 22-karat bi-metal, 18-carat fire opal.

Diana Vincent,

“Wheel Neck­lace” Plat­inum, ster­ling sil­ver, rub­ber chord.

Jane Bo­han, “Surf­board Brooch” Ster­ling sil­ver, 18-karat gold, blue di­a­mond, green chal­cedony cabo­chon.

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