Examining art jewelry in a broad artistic context in a scholarly way has been a great challenge, ever since the Studio Jewelry Movement emerged in the 70s. Now that the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, is about to open a retrospective of Linda MacNeil, an American artist who has come to bridge the Jewelry with the Studio Glass movements, I am curious to see how the show will place her and her conteibution to late 20th- and 21st century American jewelry. MacNeil, who has devoted her career to creating contemporary jewelry that combines metalwork with glass, by merging such traditional and ancient methods as the lost wax casting with pâte de verre has been one of the pioneers of the two movements. ‘Linda MacNeil: Jewels of Glass,’ on view starting next week, comes to examine a 40-year career of a lifelong passion (she has been fascinated by jewelry making since a teenaged in Framingham, Mass) and rich and complex body of work. Very rarely do I write on art jewelry simply because in much of the contemporary jewelry created today, the aesthetics are sacrificed in the favor of the narrative, resulting in jewelry that are far from being wearable. MacNeil’s work, on the other hand, is always elegant and often restrained while still innovative and experimental, making her own contribution to the territory of art jewelry.
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