CONTEMPORIZING TRADITIONAL JEWELRY
does it mean “to contemporize”? If you walked into a
Museum of Contemporary Art, you would find some things that were
abstract, but other things that were realistic or impressionistic
or surrealistic. You would find a lot of individualized expression
– works associated with a particular artist, rather than a
particular culture. You would find a wide use of modern materials
and techniques and technologies. You would find unusual or especially
noteworthy assemblages of pieces or colors or textures. You would
find pieces that in some way reflect modern culture and sensibilities
– fashions, styles, purposes, statements. The exhibits would
change on a regular basis, and you would also find something new
and different to experience and marvel at each time.
Art, on the other hand, suppressed individualized expression. Instead,
whatever the art form, traditional art emphasized a restatement
of its cultural narrative. That is, artists, working within that
cultural tradition, would use similar materials, similar designs,
and similar motifs. The artwork was a symbolic representation of
that culture’s values and self-image. The “doing of
the artwork” was a reaffirmation of one’s place within
that culture. Simply, if you did the same kinds of things in the
same kinds of ways as everyone else, this reaffirmed your membership
within that group and culture. And if you visited a Museum of Traditional
Art, there would be many displays of wonderful, sometimes elaborate,
pieces, but the exhibits would never have to change.
Traditional Jewelry has to do with how you take these particular
forms and techniques, and both add your personal style to the pieces,
as well as make them more relevant to today’s sense of fashion
and style. This may be trickier than it might first appear. To what
degree should you reference the traditional design elements in your
contemporary piece? Just the colors? The colors and the pattern?
The stitching, stringing or other techniques? The structural components,
as well? How do you break down the traditional piece, in order to
better understand it? And how do you use this understanding to figure
out how and what you should manipulate, as you design and construct
your contemporary piece?
is considerable artistry and craftsmanship underlying Etruscan jewelry.
They brought to their designs clever techniques of texturing, ornamentation,
color, relief, filigree, granulation and geometric, floral and figurative
patterning. While their techniques were borrowed from the Greeks
and other Mediterranean cultures, the Etruscans perfected these
to a level of sophistication not seen before, and not often even
Warren uses an understanding of good jewelry design principles,
and how they help us manipulate elements of design, to begin to
develop a framework for contemporizing traditional Etruscan jewelry.
He uses both bead stringing as well as bead weaving techniques toward