“MAD About Jewelry”

Photos Laurel Marcus

Are you mad about jewelry? Then don’t miss the Museum of Arts and Design’s annual “MAD About Jewelry” (through Saturday, 4/30) which premiered with a cocktail and dinner event last evening. The event is back to its traditional April slot after a December show last year.

Karen and Michael Rotenberg

Billed as the “ultimate contemporary jewelry pop-up,” designs are featured from more than 40 emerging and acclaimed international jewelry artists. It’s interesting to watch collectors and jewelry enthusiasts have the fun opportunity to meet, hear about the artists’ process, and purchase pieces from some of the most innovative creators working across all types of traditional and nontraditional media.

Marilyn Kirschner on the right talking with Suzanne Golden

These include everything from acrylics to X-rays, laminate to Velcro, wood to oyster shells, not to mention silicone, 3D-printed nylon, and even repurposed aluminum cans — all artfully employed in jewelry making as evidenced here.

Bryna Pomp wearing Hiromi Suter butterfly necklace

Proceeds from MAD About Jewelry benefit participating artists and support the museum’s educational programs. Bryna Pomp, MAD About Jewelry Director, pointed out the beautiful Mylar balloon oversize jewelry designs festooning the room, explaining how they were made in Wisconsin and then deflated and re-inflated here in New York. The room is a sight for those hungry for color, which could be most of us after this long, drab winter.

Carol Alt

Most of the guests embraced the colorful theme either through their clothing, their hair, or (you guessed it) their jewelry. Among celebrity attendees were Anna Sui, Fern Mallis, Pat Cleveland, David Yurman, Carol Alt, Lynn Yaeger, Ann Dexter-Jones, and many devoted jewelry collectors who typically frequent this event.

Now to “showcase” the jewelry (ha, see what I did there?) When I first walked into the space, the aluminum cans caught my eye – however, I didn’t know that’s what I was looking at as they are basically transformed into something resembling chic, colorful porcupines.

Eunseok Han, South Korea, repurposed aluminum cans

Eunseok Han, based in Seoul, South Korea, pointed out the orange Fanta cans and green beer cans used in several of her surprisingly lightweight brooches. Talk about sustainability – Han takes a disposable product as one of the main contributors to environmental pollution and makes something beautiful. Her rings are big and bold and extend off your finger like mighty round torpedoes.

Jenny Luckett, United States, Silicone

My first thought upon spying Nashville native Jenny Luckett’s creations is that they reminded me of the candy necklaces we all had as kids. Interestingly enough, they are “oral” as well as tactile.

In 2014 as a new mom, when she began designing this type of jewelry Luckett used her “baby brain” to inspire her. Her colorful necklaces are made from premium-quality, food-safe silicone double as teething rings and are completely safe for a baby’s mouth. They are tug proof and come apart (and can easily be put back together) intentionally at stress points.

Anna Porcu, Italy, Cameos, Leather

For more than a “cameo” appearance, don’t miss Anna Porcu’s rare antique embellished cameo jewelry. Porcu, the daughter of an antiquarian, transforms museum-quality cameos by re-crafting the settings in gold or silver and placing them on a leather backdrop, be it a necklace, bracelet, ring, or brooch.

Her art history background and her archival work in the Gucci archives in Milan and at FIT here in New York qualify her as an expert in ancient Roman times, yet she turns these treasures into something quite modern. All work is done by artisans in Tuscany.

Giulia Boccafogli, Italy, Leather

Another Italian artisan (based in Como) is Giulia Boccafogli, who uses fine Italian leather selected from unused stock funds and regenerates it into a garden of earthly delights. According to her bio, “Her aesthetic lies midway between modern decadence and primitive simplicity, in which the concept of ‘accessory’ seems to vanish, leaving in its place the idea of ornament as a great protagonist.” I don’t think I can improve upon what was clearly written in Italian and translated into English, but her jewelry is captivating.

Seth Carlson, United States, g9ld, silver, enamel, semiprecious stones

Seth Carlson is inspired and intrigued by flora and fauna and resides outside Philadelphia, where there is perhaps a different kind of wildlife than he emulates. (I can say that as a Philly native). His focus is on “environmental stewardship” — each piece is handcrafted using ethically sourced gold, silver, enamel, gemstones, and alternative materials. As a frog talisman collector, his pieces speak to me.

Nathalie Maiello, United States, acrylic

The circle is the sum of its parts could be the theme for Nathalie Maiello’s light-catching jewelry made of powder-coated brass and acrylic. The pendant can be worn apart like abstract puzzle pieces or together in the round. Either way, this Montreal native, who now resides in Connecticut, expresses her art in a form that could be used to adorn the sun coming through a window when not being worn.

Vivi Lamarre, Canada, Wood, Leather

Also hailing from Montreal is Vivi Lamarre, whose wood and leather jewelry is substantive, statement-making, lightweight, and incredibly wearable. Her most recent series, “Daydream,” incorporates a chain motif to symbolize “what we’ve been missing the most in the past months: closeness, embraces, the feeling of connection and belonging.” Everything is handmade and handcrafted in Quebec.

Rebecca Hannon, Canada, laminate

Finally, the winner of the 2022 MAD About Jewelry Award named at the dinner held at Robert Restaurant last night was Rebecca Hannon, another Canadian artist. Hannon explores form through colorful laser-cut laminate interlocked in 3-D, conjuring up memories of children’s toys. Her collection is named “Contemporary Camouflage” as it can blend in against something multicolored or stand out against a solid.

Other honorees at the dinner included iconic British fashion and textile designer Dame Zandra Rhodes (via Zoom), Art Jewelry Forum, and MAD About Jewelry Committee members.

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Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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