From top: Helen Britton, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, Melanie Bilenker

45 Stories in Jewelry
1947 to Now

February 13, 2020 – January 24, 2021
Museum of Arts and Design

Including works by: Lola Brooks, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, Gesine Hackenberg, Julia Maria Künnap, Mallory Weston, Melanie Bilenker, Bettina Speckner, Helen Britton, Sondra Sherman, Lauren Kalman, Julia Turner, Sharon Church, Märta Mattsson, MJ Tyson.

MAD was an early advocate of jewelry as a form of artistic expression. Its 1956 inaugural exhibition, Craftsmanship in a Changing World, gave many Americans their first exposure to metalsmiths who were challenging the norms of conventional jewelry design and creating works rooted in sculptural experimentation. Because of the support of MAD and like-minded institutions, makers, and collectors around the world, the concept of jewelry as an art form took hold and flourished. To date, the Museum has presented more than 150 exhibitions featuring art jewelry and there are more than 950 pieces in the Museum’s permanent collection. This exhibition highlights the Museum of Arts and Design’s contributions to the field’s advancements and contextualizes the bold experimental practices of its most compelling artists within the key historical moments that ultimately broadened the scope and reach of art as a wearable medium.

Selected by an advisory committee to represent significant developments in art jewelry since the mid-century, the featured pieces showcase jewelry artists for whom anything can serve as inspiration—from a material or found object to the pressing social and political issues of our time. Unlike costume and precious jewelry, it is the concept that takes center stage in these works.

45 Stories in Jewelry: 1947 to Now  was curated by MAD Associate Curator Barbara Paris Gifford in collaboration with the exhibition’s advisory committee members, Erin Daily, Toni Greenbaum, Bella Neyman, Sasha Nixon, Timothy Veske-McMahon, and Brian Weissman, with support from MAD Assistant Curator Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy.The exhibition has been generously supported by Michele and Marty Cohen.