Traditions & Transgressions: Art Jewelry at SOFA NEW YORK 2011

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • March 01, 2011

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Jennifer Trask, Acanthus Neckpiece, 2010 antler, 17th century gilded frame, gold leaf, gold. 16 x 12 x 3". Ornamentum, Hudson NY.

Art jewelry has always been a popular collecting category at SOFA NEW YORK, and this year certainly won’t disappoint. Visitors will be intrigued to see a variety of alternative materials, such as antlers, shells, plastics, and mixed-media alongside precious metals and gemstones. Here are some of the highlights, from galleries around the world:

Jennifer Trask
Represented at SOFA NEW YORK by Ornamentum, Hudson, NY
Jennifer Trask has an M.F.A. in metalsmithing from the State University of New York at New Paltz. Inspired by man’s effect on nature, Trask uses salvageable materials like pre-ban ivory, antlers, gold and palladium to create fantastical botanical arrangements. Trask says her “recycled materials address the uncomfortable distance we have created from nature itself. The references are specific, biological and metaphoric...Beauty is great, but I’m more interested in getting people to look at the unusual.” Jennifer Trask will also be a speaker in the SOFA NEW YORK 2011 Lecture Series.

Zoe Arnold
Represented at SOFA NEW YORK by Contemporary Applied Arts, London, UK
Zoe Arnold graduated in 2003 from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design of the University of the Arts London. Arnold says,“I don’t particularly like being described as a jeweler, simply because most peoples’ perceptions of what a jeweler is, or does, are completely wrong in relation to my work. I do make jewelry, but I write poetry, short stories, make automata, and larger more sculptural works. In the past an artist would have had many strings to their bow, but now society likes to file us under comfortable titles, and these don’t always fit.”

Ralph Bakker
Represented at SOFA NEW YORK by Charon Kransen Arts, New York, NY
For Holland’s Ralph Bakker, jewels and precious metals, with all their traditions and connotations are the concept of his work. He says, “Of great importance are archetypical forms of jewelry; I can be fascinated by a plain linkchain. Mere circles creating a picture and function that cannot be improved, form and function intertwined…It is of no importance to me whether the piece of jewelry I made
exceeds boundaries. My aim is to make a good piece of jewelry and whether it is defined as art is up to others... I search (for) answers to questions I cannot or will not ask myself, hoping that my jewelry can show me both the questions and the answers.”

Otto Künzli
Represented at SOFA NEW YORK by Gallery S O, London, UK
Born in Switzerland and trained as a goldsmith in Munich, Germany, Otto Künzli is one of the most provocative and influential jewelers of the post-War era. A student of the renowned German jeweler Hermann Jünger, Künzli eventually succeeded Jünger as director of the jewelry department at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich, where he has taught since 1991. Zunzli speaks of his “interest in geometric shapes - dots, straight, curved or bent lines, circles, triangles, and squares, in both their two- and threedimensional versions, (to see) how far I could take the minimalization of geometric shapes as jewelry.”

Vera Siemund
Represented at SOFA NEW YORK by Jewelersf Werk Galerie, Washington, DC
Vera Siemund is a young avant-garde German artist who contemporizes classic forms and reminds us of the elegance of things past. Historic ornaments and classical references have long been the focus of her creations. She is interested in their associative power, and holds a deep appreciation for the richness, detail, beauty, and workmanship of old jewelry. Yet she is quick to comment that, gthese do not belong to the world today. I often work with quotations from the 18th and 19th century. I pick out
pieces which are already eclectic themselvescwith roots in history and connections to
the present."

Peter Schmid/Atelier Zobel
Represented at SOFA NEW YORK by Aaron Faber Gallery, New York, NY
Michael Zobel and partner Peter Schmid create flamboyant, dramatic precious jewelry that combines wearable forms with a theatrical, larger-than-life aesthetic. This effect is created in part by the exaggerated three-dimensionality of many of the designs\which like all out-of-scale forms, demands that we re-evaluate the form itself and its function. Certainly, one function is as pure sculpture, in which the scale is crucial to the viewer; another is theatricality and the attention brought to the wearer. In all of this play of scale and size, there is a great sense of fun, an enjoyment of color and pattern for its own sake, and a true pleasure in jewelry as ornament.

Helen Britton
Represented at SOFA NEW YORK by Sienna Gallery, Lenox, MA
Renowned for her assemblages from found objects, Australian artist Helen Britton studied at the Academy of Fine Arts with Professor Otto Kunzli, and in 2005 she was awarded the Herbert Hofmann prize for excellence in contemporary jewelry. Britton says, gI create in my work collisions of design, Baroque, reduction resistant assemblages. Making jewelry I play out the tensionscin a small complex space. I am happy to think that these little things then find their way back out into the world. I like the
idea that (they may be) at some point perhaps even discarded, returning to be crunched again through the great geological and chemical machines of the universe, in an act of infinite transformation."

SOFA NEW YORK 2011 will open April 14 – 17th at the Park Avenue Armory, Park Ave. at 67th Street. Opening Night, Wednesday, April 13: Invitation-only 5-7pm; Public Preview 7-9pm, Tickets: $100.00. Opening Night attendees may also support New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) by purchasing a ticket to attend a private dinner in the Armory’s Tiffany Room beginning at 6pm. To purchase dinner tickets call 212.299.7712. Exposition hours: Thursday, April 14: 11am-7pm;
Friday, April 15: 11am-6pm; Saturday, April 16: 11am-7pm; and Sunday, April 17: Noon-6pm. Tickets are $25 for a single day of general admission and $40 for a four-day pass; both include catalog. For general information, visit; call 800.563.SOFA (7632) or 312.587.7632; or email

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