IN BLACK JEWELRY
JUL. 17 - SEP. 12, 2021
Photo courtesy of Louis "Ziggy" Tucker
“This exhibition seeks to focus on introducing the public to the crucial biographic information and transcendent legacies of jewelers and metal artists of Black descent. Black jewelry artists have created to function in numerous contexts from art, to adornment, to manifestations of cultural identity, to examples of contemporary art and jewelry.”
–LAMAR R. GAYLES JR., CURATOR
Divine Legacies in Black Jewelry, curated by LaMar R. Gayles, Jr., explores the pluralistic histories of jewelry creation and production in the Black Diaspora of the Americas. This exhibition centers the works and lives of over twenty-five different jewelry artists to present the first survey of the history of Black Diasporic jewelry of its kind. Divine Legacies in Black Jewelry endeavors to shift public understanding of Black jewelers and their work, from visual commodities to as exemplars of material culture that present personal and individualized notions of Black cultural identity.
While the artists represented in this exhibition have varying definitions of Black identity and conceptions of how their identities relate to their work, all of them personally identify as members of the Black Diaspora in some way. Emphasizing recurring themes in the jewelry on exhibit, such as the use of symbols and cultural materials, metals, as well as gemstones and minerals, this exhibition reveals that while there are visual and conceptual similarities amongst these works, Black jewelry is not one type of object.
Divine Legacies in Black Jewelry showcases pieces from the LaMar R. Gayles, Jr. collection alongside works borrowed from private lenders and public organizations to communicate the long-standing legacy of plurality and nuance in the transnational defining of Black identity and the formation of cultural aesthetics. This landmark exhibition is intended to be a starting point for scholars, enthusiasts, and people interested in the histories of Black jewelry makers.
To learn more about this exhibition, take the digital tour or watch the video interview with Mr. Gayles, both linked below.
To learn more about the work of LaMar R. Gayles, Jr., please visit https://pages.stolaf.edu/cis-lgayles/.
Alicia Goodwin (Lingua Nigra)
Teaty Pawoo (Art Jewelry by Sistaphyre)
Jean Baptiste Pericles
Arthur G. "Art" Smith
Janeen St. Louis
Divine Legacies in Black Jewelry and research are supported by a Craft Research Fund grant from the Center for Craft (Asheville, NC).