From Jan ’07 Spotlight: Ethical qualms about “conflict diamonds” need not concern you when you head up to Wisconsin to see the Racine Art Museum’s new exhibit “Women’s Tales: Four Leading Israeli Jewelers,” co-sponsored by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (IMJ). The four artists in question, Bianca Eshel-Gershuni, Vered Kaminski, Esther Knobel, and Deganit Stern Schocken, are all proponents of the “New Jewelry” movement, and are therefore more inclined to work with industrial materials and found objects than gemstones. In fact, the very phrase “Israeli Jewelers” is misleading to the novice, since many of the 130 pieces in the collection include baskets, wall hangings, and other items more sculptural than ornamental.
I have to admit that much of this was new to me, and some of Knobel’s painted tin necklaces left me cold, but the subject turns out to be fascinating and I was particularly intrigued by Kaminski’s work. “One basic purpose of jewelry, historically, is to hold precious stones that are set in metal,” runs one Kaminski quote from the catalogue. “In my work, I use simple Jerusalem stones. They are precious to me because Jerusalem is my home, my city.” I also found a tiny silver piece by Kaminski in the gift shop which is now the most elegant mogen david in my own personal collection.
The exhibit runs through January 21, 2007, but if you can’t make it to Racine in time, order the 126-page fully illustrated catalogue. In addition to large full color plates of many of the exhibit’s best pieces, the catalogue contains three interpretive essays by Alex Ward (the IMJ’s Curator of Design and Architecture), Davira S. Taragin (RAM’s Director of Exhibitions and Programs), and Helen W. Drutt English (America’s leading expert on contemporary jewelry).