Contemporary Jewelry Highlighted in LACMA Exhibit ‘Beyond Bling’

Some art you display on your wall, while some art you display on your finger and around your neck. LACMA is now displaying pieces of wearable art in the exhibition “Beyond Bling: Jewelry from the Lois Boardman Collection,” on view through Feb. 5.

“Beyond Bling” features selections from the Lois Boardman collection of international contemporary studio jewelry. This collection, comprised of more than 300 pieces of late 20th and early 21st century jewelry, was recently donated and has made LACMA’s collection of rings and other costume accessories one of the largest in the world. This exhibit, the first of its kind on the West Coast, features 50 works.

The jewelers featured in “Beyond Bling” are known for their innovative designs and convention-defying style. Don’t expect to see diamonds and pearls – the baubles in this exhibit are largely made from inexpensive materials, including a wide range of precious and non-precious materials including gold and other metals and alloys, plus enamel, feathers, glass, textiles and plastics, putting the focus on their artistic value rather than monetary worth.

Many carry personal or political messages. “Beyond Bling” is presented in a single gallery, with the pieces arranged according to early scientific categories: animal, vegetable, and mineral, plus plastic.Also included in “Beyond Bling” are several pieces from LACMA’s own collection, including an array of ancient Egyptian scarabs. For those unfamiliar with Egyptian history, a scarab is an object symbolizing the beetle, which was considered to be holy in ancient Egypt.

Lois Boardman never set out to be a serious collector, calling herself an accumulator until contemporary jewelry making was re-evaluated in the art world in recent years. In the early 1980s, she served as one of 32 volunteers of the National Task Force of Crafts, along with her close friend and mentor, fellow collector Helen Drutt.

“Contemporary jewelry communicates,” Boardman told “Art Jewelry Forum.”It starts up a dialogue between the wearer and the maker.”

Beyond Bling: Jewelry from the Lois Boardman Collection will be on view at LACMA Oct. 10 through Feb. 5.