ORNAMENT Volume 34 No. 1

Desert Jewels. North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermes Collection
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show 2010
Michael Kabotie. A Trickster for the Arts
Mary Hallam Pearse. That Little Something
Jane Mohr. A Modern Minimalist
John Iversen. An Aesthetic of Fragmentation
Stone on Metal. Precolumbian Metalworking Techniques and Replicas
Passing the Torch. Considering A Life in Metals

 
 
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Encompassing the present-day North African nations of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania, this region and its original inhabitants, the Amazigh peoples (also known, since ancient times, as Berbers), have been at the crossroads of trade between the Middle East, southern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa for millennia. These interactions, in combination with the craft traditions of the Imazighen (plural for “Amazigh”) and an abundance of natural resources at hand, have yielded a rich and varied aesthetic, as evidenced by the distinctive jewelry, ceramics and textiles produced there.

 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, now in its thirty-fourth year, is an enchanting repository of handmade craft. Held in the warm environs of the Philadelphia Convention Center, one hundred ninety-five diverse craft artists present work in thirteen categories, with an emerging artist category having been instituted three years ago. With a stable of well-established craftspeople intermingling with newcomers to either the field or the craft show circuit, there is a savory banquet of both the familiar and the novel from which to partake.

 

Born September 3, 1942 to his unexpected death October 23, 2009, Michael Kabotie over his sixty-seven years had the vision to take the rich traditions of his Hopi culture and refashion them in works of art spoken with a visual voice fresh and responsive to the fluid, more spontaneous, experimental and experiential aspects of contemporary life.

 

On the wall above a fireplace mantel in her 1920s home in Athens, Georgia, Mary Hallam Pearse displays several of her metal brooches intermingled with a collection of antique silver ex-votos. At first the pairing of the two gives a feeling of whimsy, allowing the viewer the fun of discovering the contemporary anomalies, but a longer examination of the group of objects reveals Pearse’s conception of jewelry as something imbued with a similar religious intensity, ritual and devotion as the treasured sacred offerings.

 

Jane Mohr brings years of experience in fashion and styling to her successful clothing line, Dress to Kill. Her designs boast unique cuts in versatile neutral and earth tones, each fabric adding textural interest and intriguing patterns. Her collection of separates can be artfully layered together, and fit seamlessly into any woman’s closet.

 

What made the exhibition remarkable, however, is that all the work was done by Washington State high school students. The show was the annual Passing the Torch, a statewide jewelry and metals arts competition and exhibition sponsored by the Seattle Metals Guild and made possible by the enthusiasm and dedication of numerous high school metals arts teachers throughout Washington.