Curators Thoughts about Ornament - Contemporary Clay Jewelry

Curatorial Statement from Jennifer Allen & Lindsay Oesterritter


Jennifer Allen earrings

Jennifer Allen earrings

Lindsay Oesterritter necklace

Lindsay Oesterritter necklace

Ornament- Contemporary Clay Jewelry is an exhibition of jewelry made by 14 artists from across the United States. It showcases a wide range of ideas, techniques and materials. Pieces included range from atmospheric fired necklace pendants to polymer clay earrings. The collection of jewelry featured in the exhibition bridges the varied interests of the artists represented and exemplifies highly crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces.

The tradition of making clay jewelry is not new to the world, but in recent years has gained popularity in the United States. Ceramics is a craft steeped in tradition dating back thousands of years. The earliest known piece of ceramics in the world, a Venus figurine referred to as The Venus of Dolní Věstonice (29,000 BCE-25,000 BCE) was found at a Paleolithic site in what is now the Czech Republic. This figurine predates fragments of fired clay recently found in China and estimated to be the oldest known pottery at 20,000 years old. It is amazing to realize we have been ornamenting ourselves for much longer. The oldest piece of jewelry created by modern humans is believed to be a sea snail shell bracelet discovered in Israel, dating back over 100,000 years. This ancient artifact revealed that the shells were transformed into beads and made into an ornamental bracelet.

The jewelry we wear has long been a personal and cultural symbol for what one perceives as beautiful. Each piece is a distinctive statement that connects us to traditions that have existed long before us. The artists in this exhibition were selected because of their thoughtful approach of composing clay/ceramic works that speak to personal ideas of beauty and ornamentation.