Gallery Talk: Radical Jewelry Makeover

“The very simple act of donating and repurposing jewelry becomes a political, environmental and social act,” said San Francisco-based jewelry designer Jenn Carroll Wilson at last month’s gallery talk for our Radical Jewelry Makeover Artist Project show. Wilson and her fellow Ethical Metalsmiths board member Peter Calvert were in town to discuss the impetus and values behind the monumental project.

For over four years, Radical Jewelry Makeover has traveled the nation, educating the design community and the general public about the toxicity of mining practices. The project brings together volunteer “miners,” who dig out and donate their old jewelry, with volunteer jewelers and students, working together as refiners and designers to collaborate on an exhibition of re-made jewelry. For the form & concept exhibition, a small group of artists from across the country who previously collaborated with Radical Jewelry Makeover were invited to dive more deeply into the motivations and questions of the project.

Emily Van Cleve of the brand new culture blog Santa Fe Arts Journal recently covered the show. Here’s her take:

What can you do with unusable jewelry? For some folks, the answer is to donate it to Ethical Metalsmiths, a New York-based organization dedicated to promoting mining practices that respect and protect the earth, its people and cultures. […]

“Each jeweler was asked to make jewelry out of a variety of materials they were given,” explains form & concept’s director Frank Rose, who adds that the materials ranged from precious metals and stainless steel to enamel, reclaimed horn, abalone, plastic, glass and fishing line. “What they came up with is really amazing. Every piece is one-of-a-kind.”

Read the rest of Emily’s post here, and watch the video to learn more about our Radical Jewelry Makeover show. It’s on view through February 19 in the form & concept atrium. Drawings of mining sites by Nina Elder are on display in conjunction with the exhibition. Click here to read an interview with her about her artistic practice and the environmental impact of mining.