Those who hunted the biggest bear, the most lions, those who lived long enough to gather the most feathers and shark teeth, those were the ones who wore the most imposing jewelry. The jewelry was and still is a clear symbol of power- before it was for strength and wisdom, today it is for wealth and prestige.
People have always adorned themselves, and often their gods and deities- offering their jewelry in dedication as well as, in the case of Tibetan Buddhism, to reflect the splendor of their spiritual state.
Curated by Ariana Embirikos this exhibition looks at the psychology behind the acts of giving and taking, and will examine jewelry’s power through the lens of prestige. A series of bronze sculptures encrusted and adorned with jewels, reminiscent of the great Jowo Shakyamuni in Tibet will occupy a serene space where markers of ritual cue visitors of their place in the quotidien.
The sculptures present beaded jewelry that can be worn every day. The sculpted beads are made from solid silver and bronze, and interspersed with precious stones, diamonds and pearls. Imprinted with the maker’s fingerprints, these pieces are a testimony to the repetition of her meditation and the reassertion of her own divinity. Each bead is marked over time by their makers - the artist, artisans and nature respectively. The wearer, in turn, becomes a creator when the piece is worn in by their own rituals.
The pieces range from hand to arm to bust-size, each referencing a symbolic spiritual gesture or posture. The divine in me sees and honors the divine in you. In casting the hands of the layperson who goes to the idol, we define, immortalize, and commemorate the act of adorning a deity. Taking from an idol to self adorn and then giving back is both empowering and humbling. By physically interacting with the jewelry and life-like sculpture, we are led to self-reflect and understand the accessibility and importance of ritual, meditation, and intention in attaining enlightenment. Understanding how we construct religions and belief systems as a means of making sense of unknowable parts of our world, universe and selves, these works also critically approach adornment, religion and self beautification as it reaches the extent of self deification.
* Visitors are allowed to remove jewelry from the sculpture and try it on themselves. Hand sanitation is required. The jewelry and sculptures are made specifically as a pair and all are gender neutral.