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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jewelry Art with a Latin American Beat at MAD

Mariana Acosta
Tube socks, balloons, shattered windshields and more familiar materials are all interpreted as objects of adornment and artistic statements with a modern Latin American perspective in an exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. 

Think Again: Latin American Jewelry is the first comprehensive overview of contemporary art jewelry from Latin America to be seen in the United States, according to museum officials. It contains more than eighty works by over fifty Latin American jewelry artists and designers from some 23 countries. 

Maria Constanza Ochoa

Latin America spans beyond the U.S. border in the north to the tip Antarctica in the south. While sharing Native American, Spanish and African heritage; culturally and historically the vast region is extremely complex. Add to this geography that includes vast mountain ranges, deserts, rainforests and island chains and the isolation these terrains represent, and you get an idea of the challenges of organizing an exhibit that represents such breadth—even though it takes up a small space on the second floor of the museum.
The guest-curator, Netherlands-based, Mexican-born architect Valeria Vallarta Siemelink, president of the Otro Diseño Foundation for Cultural Cooperation and Development, which organized the show, recognized this challenged and so she organized the show around three themes: “History, Memory, Tradition,” “A Knack for Invention” and “Seeking and Expressing Identity.”

The themes weren’t clear to me while viewing the exhibit and I don’t think it matters. If there is a commonality, it’s that the individual statements, use of materials and creativity employed are as diverse as the region these works represent.

Teresa Margolles
For example, one display houses two simple and elegant 18k gold rings by Teresa Margolles of Mexico (above). The sparkle from the pave patterns of these rings are the result of diamonds mixed with the shattered glass from car windshields. Margolles, an artist and forensic doctor, created these rings with the help of a jeweler who makes ostentatious jewelry for Mexican drug lords. The windshield glass was shattered during violent drug battles.

Raquel Paiewonsk
Compare that to a large display of coffee stained tube socks tied together to create a necklace that covers most of a person’s body (left). The work by Raquel Paiewonsky of the Dominican Republic, is an attempt to display how the quest for beauty often interferes with the body’s natural purpose. The socks represents breasts and despite poverty and inadequate healthcare, breasts implants are on the rise in the Dominican Republic, while only about 8 percent of women breastfeed their babies.

Reny Golcman
A large neckpiece displayed like a round cake with shades of gray, blue and green by Mariana Acosta of Mexico (first photo) is designed to protect the wearer against the grayness of northern winters. Another necklace made of deflated black and white latex balloons slightly filled with flour by Maria Constanza Ochoa of Colombia (second photo), is open to different interpretations. And there’s a necklace with a pendant adorned with a barracuda jaw bone that the artist, Reny Golcman of Brazil, describes as an exploration of taboo subjects like death (left).

The exhibition, which began October 12, will run through Jan. 8, 2011, at the museum located on 2 Columbus Circle.

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