Ornament as Art Challenges Viewers to Look Beyond Jewelrys Traditions

Ornament as Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collectionplaces contemporary jewelry within a larger framework of 20th and 21st century art. Opening at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design this fall, the exhibition showcases a broad array of national and international works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s celebrated Helen Williams Drutt Collection of contemporary jewelry.

Over her lifetime, the legendary scholar, educator and gallery director Helen Williams Drutt, has assembled arguably one of the most comprehensive collections of contemporary studio jewelry in the world. Ornament as Art features approximately 275 pieces of jewelry spanning the 1960s through today, as well as drawings, watercolors, sketchbooks and sculptural constructions by the artists. Placed in context with significant movements in the non-craft art world, the exhibition encourages the appreciation of contemporary jewelry beyond its traditional boundaries without ignoring its roots.

Objects on view include necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings and rings culled from 15 different countries. Highlights include a sterling silver and polyester resin Torque 22-D Neckpiece (1971) by Stanley Lechtzin, a leading innovator in electroforming technologies; Claus Bury’s Ring (1970), a revolutionary work that blends precious metal with alternative materials; and Bernhard Schobinger’s Scherben vom Moritzplatz Berlin necklace (1982-1983), a distinctive combination of antique crystal beads with shards of Coca-Cola bottles found in a politically charged section of Berlin.

Ornament as Art is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue available for purchase in The Mint Museum Shops. Cindi Strauss, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s curator of modern and contemporary decorative arts and design, will give a public lecture about the exhibition on Sunday, August 24 at 3:00 p.m. at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design.

The exhibition is on view at the craft museum August 16, 2008 – January 4, 2009. Ornament as Art is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston with generous funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rotasa Foundation. It is sponsored by The Founders’ Circle Ltd., the national support affiliate of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design.