April 9 – May 23, 2021

story of the eye: a subculture of ornamental oddities

Welcome to story of the eye: a subculture of ornamental oddities. This solo exhibition by renowned jeweler and artist, Lola Brooks, is resplendent with love and loss, despair and hope. In this theatre of the absurd, Brooks’ jewelry appropriates her usual sentimental clichés and feeds them through the cultural shorthand of emoji, begging us to reconsider their depth and power while celebrating the ridiculous and paradoxical nature of our current daily existence.

Each piece from this collection is fabricated out of yards of stainless-steel chain, which is wrapped around a temporary plaster core. Hundreds of tiny, individual chips of 14k gold solder are then flowed in between every link of the chain, essentially freezing it to itself, and leaving behind a hollow chain shell. Facial features are culled from various bits of studio detritus that Brooks has collected over the years, including antique and vintage blown glass doll eyes, antique coral roses, natural coral branch formations, diamonds, mid-century shell cameos, and little gold fancies.

These are strange times we live in and this will be reflected in the work of artists around the world. Brooks brings notes of surrealism to her works which harken back to the 1930’s and Elsa Schiaparelli’s collaboration with artists such as Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau as well as the images of Man Ray, and the writings of Georges Bataille. Jewelry, naturally an object of desire, in the hands of Brooks becomes even more provocative. Luscious blood red coral mouths, tears of diamonds, eyelashes that resemble golden crowns, and the occasional butterfly bow, big or small are surrounded by tiny, yet uncannily anthropoid glass eyes. Faces, personalities, emotion, and intercourse emerge and dissipate, reflecting the mercurial experiences of living in this time.

“These pieces reflect my state of mind, and the culture as it has unfurled around me, and while I see them as being somewhat dark and disconcerting, they are also ridiculous. Such strange creatures as these, where mouths become wounds become vaginas, butterflies are bows, and diamond tears have taken millions of years to form and be wept. Eyes are the windows of the soul, offering solace, offering humor, offering love, offering protection, demanding accountability,” says Brooks. “I want this work to engage with people in ways that invite us to think beyond the object itself and into our shared, lived experience, digging into both the discomfort and the awe and wonder of being alive. I think of myself as a storyteller, spinning tales through my jewelry that I hope reach deeply into each of us.”   read more of Lola’s thoughts about this recent work

Lola Brooks began her arts education at Pratt Institute studying fashion, and went on to complete her BFA under Jamie Bennett and Myra Mimlitsch-Gray in the renowned metals program at SUNY New Paltz. An active artist, jeweler and educator, Brooks’ has participated in many gallery and museum shows around the world including the recent Heavy Metal at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. The Recipient of the inaugural Sienna Gallery Emerging Artist Award, Lola’s work has been reviewed and included in many publications including the Lark Books jewelry series; American Craft, Metalsmith, Ornament, Out, W, Vogue, JCK, Wallpaper, and the New York Times. She has taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art, the University of Georgia where she served as the Lamar Dodd Professorial Chair 2012-13, Rhode Island School of Design, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and SUNY New Paltz, as well as the 92nd St Y in NYC, Haystack and Penland School of Crafts. Her work can be found in the collections of the Samuel Dorsky Museum, New Paltz, NY, the Racine Museum of Art, Racine, Wisconsin, The Yale Gallery of Art, Yale University New Haven, CT, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Museum of Art and Design, NYC as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.