Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Push Jewelry, edited by Marthe LeVan, curated by Arthur Hash, review by Jean Yates

PUSH Jewelry, edited by Marthe LeVan and Curated by Arthur Hash
review by Jean Yates

PUSH Jewelry attracted me immediately with its uniquely textural and brilliantly designed cover. I could not resist running my hand over it. I looked at the combinations of the powerfully alluring shape of the book, the assertive binding, the cut out arrow on the heavy board cover, and the brilliant photography partially hidden by that arrow. That photography ultimately compels you to go within. Follow the arrow, and sink yourself into the pages of the PUSH Jewelry, despite the fact that the cover is a work of art in itself.

This book fulfills its promise. Edited by Marthe LeVan, one of the greats in the stellar Lark collections of editors, it is curated by Arthur Hash.
What is the promise PUSH Jewelry holds for the reader?
It "pushes the envelope" of jewelry design with a collection of some of the greatest art design pieces of our age. It is thrilling to view  a definititive collection for art lovers of all sorts, not just jewelry lovers.

When I checked out the phrase "push the envelope", which I did immediately, here is what I found online:


This phrase came into general use following the publication Tom Wolfe's book about the space programme - The Right Stuff, 1979:

"One of the phrases that kept running through the conversation was `pushing the outside of the envelope'... [That] seemed to be the great challenge and satisfaction of flight test."

Wolfe didn't originate the term, although it's appropriate that he used it in a technical and engineering context, as it was first used in the field of mathematics.

The envelope here isn't the container for letters, but the mathematical envelope, which is defined as 'the locus of the ultimate intersections of consecutive curves'. In a two-dimensional example, the set of lines described by the various positions of a ladder sliding down a wall forms an envelope - in this case an arc, gently curving away from the intersection of the wall and floor. Inside that envelope you will be hit by the ladder; outside you won't.

(Note for the mathematically inclined: it might seem intuitive that the centre point of the ladder would follow that same arc. In fact it describes a circle centred around the origin).

That's enough mathematics. The point is that an envelope is that which envelops. The phrase has something in common with an earlier one - 'beyond the pale'. Inside the pale you were safe; outside, at risk.

In aviation and aeronautics the term 'flight envelope' had been in use since WWII, as here from the Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, 1944"

So...as you can see, this phrase "push the envelope" can be adapted to anything which strives to go past that which has been done before.

In looking at this collection, my mind was always on that phrase. Here wer have 30 artists, jewelry designers, pushing the envelope.
Arthur Hash, in his cool Intro, explains his requirements for the designs he choose to go into the book.

"using exciting new materials"
"exploring innovative fabrication techniques"
"playing with historical references"
"...and presenting the remarkable results as wearable art".

Arthur Hash is a designer and an educator. He had many questions for the jewelry artists who designed each piece in order to satisfy him before a piece became a part of this book. I boils down to the reasons why the designer made the piece in all its aspects: from color to motivation. He states he needed to understand the philosophy behind the piece.

I find this incredibly gratifying to read, as I believe that jewelry made mindlessly is worthless. Only when a designer puts every single aspect of his or her being into a jewelry design before passing it along to the wearer will that jewelry have any value, no matter what it costs to make. This is what I believe, and passion of the sort you see described in the book "The Right Stuff" is the very same passion you will discover in PUSH Jewelry.

So let's go beyond the front cover, and the introduction and see this powerful jewelry, photographed incredibly and explained by each artist.

There is a quote for each of the 30 artists of why he or she does what she does. Then you see the elegant photographs, which jump right off the page.
There is a bottom bar which contains a Q&A section: Q: describe your work. A. The artist's answer. Q: How has your technique developed? A: answer.
Q: What Kind of responses do you get to your work? A: Answer. Q; How do your subjects or concepts evolve? A: Answer.

Those are some of the question asked. There are many more and all are enlightening because these artists are BRAVE and are creating their work for LOVE. Therefore they are very honest about answering the questions posed by Hash. If you are doing what you do because you are brave and are doing it for love, you are fearless.

Here is an example, as thought worthy for the reader as any of the others. There is a thumbnail photograph of a man from Spain named Gaston Rois.

 His medium is stonework. The photos of his work are of some marble jewelry pieces he has done. They attach together to make a jewelry piece.
Rois quote is :"My work is a metaphor for what life represents to me: a game".
He was asked a question,"Early Influences?"
He replied" I was always influenced by architecture -- and by nature in its many forms."
Another question he was asked:"What do you love about the materials you use?"

His answer:"The dialogue I have with my materials is important. They challenge me , amd I'm fascinated by the possibility of transmuting them. Stone was was a new material for me, and because of that, I was attracted to it immediately. I wanted to discover it -- That became my challenge."

How much clearer and precise could this designer's feelings about what he does be?

This book is extremely thought provoking and educational as well as beautiful and wild. It is as if you have your own private modern art museum at hand, with PUSH Jewelry.

I think Push Jewelry should be recommended reading for students involved in art who are attending school. It's that good. It's that enlightening.

It connects us to the hows, the whys and the whos of the thriving modern jewelry world in a very accessible way, thanks to the editor and the curator.

An excellent book which you must see for yourself to understand in all its myriad beauties and ramifications.


Marissa Foss said...

What an amazing idea. Designs that 'push' the boundaries are the ones that get remembered, so I love this concept for a whole book to inspire designers.

-Marissa Foss, Artbeads.com

Jean said...

Marissa--Hi! It is an honor to hear from you! Thank you for the nice comments, too!
I feel so proud! :)