Thursday, June 16, 2011


Up & Coming 2011:
New Printmakers Make Their Mark

Art of Adornment: Studio Jewelry


WHEN: Sunday, June 19–September 18, with a reception planned for the following Sunday, June 26, from 2 to 4 PM.
WHERE:  Hunterdon Art Museum, 7 Lower Center Street in Clinton
Museum's hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM. For more information, contact the Museum at 908.735.8415. SUGGESTED ADMISSION: $5.  

The Hunterdon Art Museum continues its long history of supporting and promoting contemporary printmakers with this second invitational show, Up & Coming 2011: New Printmakers Make Their Mark, showcasing prints by MFA candidates and recent graduates from various East Coast art schools with MFA printmaking programs. Works chosen for the exhibition utilize traditional techniques such as woodcut and silkscreen, as well as current advances in digital technology that create prints. The show includes two- and three-dimensional objects, artist books and mixed media installations that expand the conventional boundaries of printmaking and identify some innovative trends in contemporary art. (Above: Rebel by Christi Birchfield, 2010)

If there is a common thread connecting these diverse works it may be ingenuity. Many of the artists look beyond traditional printmaking materials and methods, incorporating other media and processes to create contemporary works of art. From Christi Birchfield's use of flowers as a pigment (above) to Donna Globus' art of storytelling through offset printed sheets and books to Rhys Himsworth's reconfiguration of a cardiograph as a printmaking device, these artists have developed their own unique techniques while maintaining the very ideals of making prints. Evolving technologies let the artists expand their printmaking practice, but their attention to the history of this art form allows for a fluid transformation and rich results.

"Making a mark" is both an activity and an outcome. When we speak of mark making as an artistic endeavor we refer to an essential gesture; for an artist, making a mark is an act of creativity. Additionally, the expression "to make one's mark" means to achieve distinction or make a name for oneself. Both meanings are relevant for the emerging artists in this exhibition. While the mark they will leave on contemporary art is yet to be determined, each has made an indelible mark on this exhibition.


Art of Adornment: Studio Jewelry features the work of thirteen artists who create jewelry that is part of an ongoing trend to marry precious with non-precious materials. Merging the timeless with the fleeting, the precious with the ordinary, their work combines gems and metals with materials found in nature, the environment and industry. These artists include Sarah Abramson, Mona Brody, Alexia Cohen, Donald Friedlich, Yael Friedman, Jill Baker Gower, Susanne Kiemm, Anna Lorich, Märta Mattson, Melissa Miller, Tina Rath, Anita van Doom, and Kiwon Wang. (Right: Statement #2, 2008, by Kiwon Wang)

Formally trained in design and fabrication, the artists in this exhibition are grounded in the history of jewelry and its purposes. Their work represents their individual searches for an aesthetic that speaks to their chosen materials and craftsmanship. Tina Rath works with precious gems and fur, materials associated with privilege, but while the gems are stable and everlasting, the fur is fragile. Kiwon Wang mixes ageless pearls with paper, a product prone to aging and fraying. Man-made materials, old and new, get new life in the hands of Susanne Klemm and Jill Baker Gower.

Jewelry has long signaled status and wealth. Traditionally, social value could be attained only if the materials themselves were enduring, making possible heirlooms that passed from generation to generation. Although their appearance and craft could change over time, it was the precious gem or metal that gave it value.

Although mainstream jewelry designers still trade on the notion that "a diamond is forever," the 20th century saw a shift in this approach. Studio jewelry, influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, redefined value as resting in the aesthetic and skill of the maker rather than the value of the materials. This shift opened the door to any material that caught the fancy of the artist.

This juxtaposition of precious, long-lasting materials and non-traditional, ephemeral elements may suggest a playful or irreverent critique of our understanding of value, challenging the consumer to reconsider the meaning of jewelry and our understanding of the relationship between value and timelessness. Appearance can be greatly enhanced by beautiful objects and therein, lies the Art of Adornment.

Up & Coming 2011: New Printmakers Make Their Mark is funded in part by the International Fine Print Dealers Association. Museum programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the United Way, corporations, foundations and individuals.