Sunday, March 2, 2008

Feminist Jewelry

"Because in our culture girls are both the consumers and the commodities in dehumanizing markets that divide them into body parts that can be packaged and redesigned, from your fingernails to your breasts to the size of your thighs. That market depends on institutionalized misogyny and individual self-loathing." -Shapely Prose

The quoted post is discussing something else, but this is at the heart of my struggles with ornamentation and jewelry as a whole, something that is a long term project to try to dissect. Essentially, I want to figure out if it is possible to take jewelry, a medium that has been used to constrain and objectify women more times than not (dowry jewelry, slave piercings, jewelry as status symbol, even engagement rings) and find space for good, for power moving outwards. There are a few angles I want to tackle.

-Overtly feminist pieces: Such as the pieces I've done looking at Eve, or those with Maya Angelou's poetry on them, etc. Pieces that openly discuss feminist issues.

-Jewelry for the wearer: Pieces with hidden messages, that can be worn different ways, that have an altogether richer experience for the wearer than for the viewer.

-Non-binding jewelry: This is just a thought that I haven't explored all that thoroughly yet, but I'm interested in the possibilities for jewelry that doesn't clasp, doesn't lock, doesn't restrict the wearer. It would probably end up being fairly conceptual work, but interesting nonetheless.

-Non-precious pieces: This is complicated, because there are things you can do with silver that you can't do with other materials. But I try hard not to stick gold or stones or anything into a piece that doesn't truly add to it. For instance, I would never use white gold - unless you have an allergy, the color is duller than silver, the only real benefit it has is its expense and accompanying snob appeal. So no huge diamonds, no pieces that serve to simply showcase wealth. Each piece should ideally be beautiful on its own merits, regardless of the materials involved.

I'm sure I'll talk a lot more about this subject in the future, but the quote caught my eye and I wanted to jot down the basics before I forgot.

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