Nikki Couppee & Shelly McMahon-
Usually, gemstones are used with non-precious metals to replicate fine jewelry. Nikki and Shelly have explored this in their latest work by creating gemstones out of plastic, leather, and balsa wood. This work is an original and intellectual take on what we think of as costume jewelry.
About Nikki's work:
My current work talks about the different functions jewelry performs in society. Objects of personal adornment have the ability to define a person’s social status, question value and serve as a redeemable investment. I am seeking to create opulent jewelry that is reminiscent of royal jewelry but made out of quotidian materials instead of precious gems and metals. Plexiglass, brass, steel, enamel and found objects stand in for gemstones, gold, and pearls in these asymmetrically designed pieces. With the use of everyday materials I am able to create my own versions of gemstones, playing with the size, shape, and amount of the stones to satisfy her particular feeling when creating the pieces intuitively.
About Shelly's work:
Shelly McMahon is a contemporary jeweler working conceptually within the field of craft. Incorporating non-skilled labor as well as non-traditional materials into her practice, she uses research about the neuropsychological effects that faceted gemstone in fine jewelry have on our attention in order to devise algorithms for the creation of ornament. Her work investigates what causes the brain to block out the majority of incoming visual stimulus in favor of a singular one. In this way, her pieces explore methods of commanding attention through material and perspectival manipulation in order to create her own fine jewelry. Historically, costume jewelry has taken on the role of recreating fine gemstones in nonprecious materials. While the role of costume jewelry is to make luxuries available to the masses, Shelly’s work takes a philosophical departure and accepts the eminent failure of replicating fine jewelry inexpensively. This futility of representation is a central concept in her work.