(Bard Graduate Center Gallery, New York, NY. February 13-July 15, 2019)

Contemporary art jewelry is intimately connected to artistic identity, and primarily driven by a concept. A View from the Jeweler’s Bench: Ancient Treasures, Contemporary Statements emphasizes the voices of contemporary jewelers who deliberately appropriate ancient and historical jewelry styles and techniques. The exhibition will highlight the role of the maker in determining the form of the final jewel, and will include a jeweler’s bench, process sketches, and tools alongside jewelry pieces from antiquity to the present. Traditional and current processes employed by jewelers will be displayed alongside contemporary and historical jewels and artifacts. This will illuminate the connections between present and past – in terms of form, technique, and materials – that link modern jewelry and its forerunners while highlighting how contemporary jewelry artists are considering adornment uniquely. The extraordinary objects selected for the exhibition materialize the changing contexts of jewelry through time.

Bard Graduate Center Gallery exhibition page

Exhibition Press:

Metalsmith Magazine, Forthcoming

Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2019. Read

WAG Magazine, March, 2019. Read

Forbes, January 12, 2019. Read


(Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY. October 15, 2018-February 3, 2019)

“Marilyn and JFK, Together Again!” Tribune, September 30, 2012 [headline]

A mysterious ring has been found with a note that reads, “Jack, with love as always from Marilyn.” The ring is crowned with an image of Marilyn Monroe in a heart. When moved, an image of President Kennedy coyly joins her in the mirror. Though not much is known about the ring, the date on the note (May 29, 1962) suggests it could have been a birthday gift to President Kennedy!

It’s easy to fall into the trap of sensational headlines. Even careful and informed readers must work to resist the pull of fake news, a phenomenon currently dominating American media. In his solo exhibition Fake News and True Love: Fourteen Stories by Robert Baines, the Australian contemporary artist explores this issue through the lens of jewelry. By making up and “fact-checking” news stories to accompany his works, Baines manipulates what is accepted as truth to address the influence that fake news has on our perception of events.

Fake News and True Love is a clever examination of jewelry as a document of popular cultural history. The artist’s fanciful pieces and accompanying “evidence” encourage belief in the fourteen stories he presents. Baines has fabricated alternate realities that span from B.C.E. to the present day and encompass an equally wide range of topics, including migration, conspiracy, forgery, celebrity, and politics. His rings, parures, neckpieces, and bracelets show the misunderstandings that design can create, emphasizing the constructed nature of collective history. Through satire and humor, he cautions that linear narration can be confused with myth, riddle, puzzle, and possible subversions of history. Is the story true or fake?

Robert Baines has shaped the fields of contemporary jewelry and jewelry history for over forty years. In 2010, he was named a Living Treasure-Master of Australian Craft for his significant contributions. In addition to teaching and maintaining his own contemporary jewelry practice, he studied ancient jewelry at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and masterworks in several other international institutions. Through these experiences, he has essentially learned to brilliantly copy jewelry—from the ancient to the modern—making him uniquely suited to a show of this caprice.

Fake News and True Love: Fourteen Stories by Robert Baines is curated by MAD’s Assistant Curator Barbara Paris Gifford and Windgate Curatorial Intern Sasha Nixon.

Previous iterations were shown at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, as part of the Clemenger Contemporary Art Award exhibition, 2006; Designmuseo, Helsinki, 2008; Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, 2008–2009; and Handwerkskammer für München und Oberbayern, Munich, 2010

MAD exhibition page


(Pratt Manhattan, SPCS Gallery, as part of NYC Jewelry Week, New York, NY. November 12-18 2018)

NYC Jewelry Week is NYC’s first and only week dedicated to promoting the world of jewelry through educational and innovative NYC focused programming. In its inaugural year, NYCJW will feature groundbreaking exhibitions, educational lectures, explorative workshops, exclusive tours, and unique collaborations with the best and brightest businesses, brands, individual jewelers, artists, and designers throughout NYC.


Both a timeless visual feast and an intellectual retreat, Antiquemania is a present-day cabinet of curiosities, where it is possible to explore jewelry’s traditional, organic and innovative materials, together with universal ideas of beauty, desire, memory, nature, death... Antiquemania brings together an eclectic group of contemporary jewelers whose different approaches to historical jewelry create an enriching visual dialogue between the past and the present, ancient and contemporary identity, materials, techniques, and aesthetics.

Artists Jennifer Trask and Miranda Leigh search for ideals of beauty and the perfection of natural forms through historical motifs. Trask’s work is iconic for her fanciful use of bone and actual antique fragments, like transforming a 17th-century gilded frame into a neckpiece. Leigh’s Greek water vessel earrings vividly convey her artist statement, “it is a privilege to create jewels from noble materials that celebrate our most precious memories and desires.”

Inspired by Georgian and Victorian memento mori, Melanie Bilenker and Rachel Andrea Davis use hair to portray memories of domestic intimacy and lost love, respectively; while Kelly Jean Conroy creates memorials dedicated to the natural world and her childhood using bone and taxidermied animals. Alicia Jane Boswell’s lace and enamel jewels distill a familiar sense of fragility and longing for the past.

At Jewelry Arts Inc., Jeanette Caines and Mike Ellis teach ancient jewelry making techniques of granulation, chasing, repoussé, and enameling. Here their work is juxtaposed with Isabelle Busnell and Ashley Buchannan’s interpretations of historical forms using new materials. Busnel molds 18th-century style stomachers, bow earrings, and Baroque architectural details out of silicone rubber while Buchanan distills historical jewelry forms into powder-coated silhouettes.


Isabelle Busnel - France

Ashley Buchanan - Atlanta, GA

Miranda Leigh - Brooklyn, NYC

Jennifer Trask - Lake Tahoe, NV

Melanie Bilenker - Philadelphia, PA

Kelly Jean Conroy - Boston, MA

Rachel Andrea Davis - Bayview, WI

Alicia Jane Boswell - Lake Worth, FL

Jeanette Caines and Mike Ellis (Jewelry Arts Inc.) - Manhattan, NYC


ANTIQUEMANIA artists, Alicia Jane Boswell, Ashley Buchanan,Isabelle Busnel, Jeanette K. Caines, Kelly Jean Conroy, Rachel Andrea Davis and Miranda Leigh discussed their respective creative processes and historical references found in their work. The presentations were followed by a round table discussion between the artists and curators, Sasha Nixon and Ana Estrades. The discussion was moderated by Karen Bachmann.