The Worn exhibit, which examines the social and political history of jewelry, has opened at the Solarium Gallery at Houghton House and will be on display through March 1.
Curated by artists and jewelers Andrea Miller and Amelia Toelke, the Worn exhibit that recently opened at the Solarium Gallery at Houghton House includes multimedia pieces that utilize sashes, buttons and a mirrored wall and three collaborative projects, Amend, Hand Medal Project and Documenting the Nameplate. Each one explores the intersection of jewelry and social issues, revealing how jewelry is a powerful tool for action, protest and identity formation.
“Worn speaks to the complex relationship between identity, culture and ornament by engaging many makers, spaces and thinkers in the language of adornment. Simply put, jewelry expresses our innate impulse to adorn and to communicate who we are,” Miller and Toelke write in their artistic statement.
A featured artwork at the exhibit is titled “Sash Memorial.” To celebrate voting rights, Miller and Toelke invited people from across the country to craft sashes inspired by the “Votes for Women” accessory worn by the suffragists. Students in “Introduction to Women’s Studies” and “Feminist Theory” joined the national action, contributing sashes with odes to feminist icons and messages to promote kindness and civil rights. Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer says the project represents a “21st century reworking” of the suffragists message. Learn more about the exhibit here.
“We wanted this exhibition to have a collaborative focus, to be able to show not just works that engaged with questions of metalwork and jewelry in relation to suffrage history, but all sorts of adornment: nameplate jewelry, I Voted pins, and medals for service and healthcare workers during the pandemic,” says the Clarence A. “Dave” Davis ’48 Visual Arts Curator Anna Wager. “A lot of the show has been crowdsourced with viewer submitted pieces, and that’s really exciting.”
The Solarium Gallery will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and by appointment. To schedule an appointment email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miller is an educator and visual artist whose practice is influenced by the traditions of metalsmithing and sculpture, community outreach and public education. Born and raised in the Midwest, Miller completed her MFA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and earned a B.S. in art education as well as a BFA in metals from Ball State University. She maintains an active studio practice and exhibition record outside of the classroom and in 2017, she was awarded the Lilly Endowment’s Teacher Creativity Fellowship.
Toelke is a visual artist whose work engages the language of jewelry to explore the complex negotiation between identity, culture and adornment. Toelke’s work activates the space between object and image, reality and representation, revealing her long-time infatuation with flatness. Through a palette of recurring imagery and tropes her work seeks the point where humor and sentimentality meet. Toelke is currently a lecturer at SUNY New Paltz and lives in Chatham, N.Y.
In addition to pieces by Toelke and Miller, the multimedia exhibit features works by: Amend artists Kerianne Quick and Jess Tolbert, aka Secret Identity Projects; Documenting the Nameplate artists Marcel Rosa-Salas, Isabel Flower and Kyle Richardson; and Hand Medal Project artists Iris Eichenberg and Jimena Ríos.