Novelty sets our world on fire. Innovative, novel pieces of jewelry intrigue us. The recycled, novel pieces handcrafted by Harriete Estel Berman are not only intriguing - they are downright awe-inspiring. While Harriete is known for her eclectic use of found/recycled materials in a diverse range of things (like teapots, teacups, sculpture, wall pieces, and art installations), we find her jewelry to be the most fascinating examples of her work.
This visually-dynamic piece is called Column Bracelet with People in Black Hot Air Balloon - note that the interior of the bracelet in made from a Tomato Sauce tin. Two-sided pieces seem to be a signature aspect of Harriete's work.
Hard to believe this work of art is made from the lowly, recycled tin can. But as Harriete says on her website, her work is more than just the recycled materials.
"Post-consumer tin containers recycle our unconscious consumption of advertising, marketing, and possession as identification. The materials are not as precious as gold or silver but in many ways reflect more accurately the values of our society."
Many of the product sources are easily recognizable.
While the materials may be common and ordinary, her craftmanship is impeccable and she expresses herself eloquently:
"The recycled tin containers used to construct this work are diverted from a destiny as trash, revitalizing the mundane into the extraordinary. Most importantly, the use of recycled packaging as a medium and source of content addresses a spectrum of social and political issues.
Conspicuous consumption as a cultural norm flourishes in the rapid-fire pace of changing styles, models, and merchandising ? and even influences the marketing of art and craft. My work questions whether creativity, content, and craftsmanship are becoming yet another disposable commodity. Hopefully, this work transforms the viewers' awareness of their participation and challenges their own complacency."
Here is a representative sampling of her Series of Bracelets. Again, each is distinguished by having two sides of gorgeous detail to enjoy.
Many of Harriete's pieces are evocative. After collecting recycled materials for twenty years and creating jewelry for at least that long, we imagine that one has to, at some point, delve into deeper cultural issues. Here is a bracelet that includes the recycled tin materials yet incorporates so much more. It is called Yellow Altoid Beach Bracelet with Antenna.
We find ourselves thinking a bit more deeply about the cultural significance of disposable items and their new, improved uses as jewelry. Truly, here we have an artist who is inspired not only by beauty but also by the beauty inherent in the mundane, the disposable, the ordinary.
How are you inspired by the world around us?
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