Radical Jewelry Makeover: Wisconsin

When I first started working for SNAG as the conference intern a couple years ago, I learned about the Radical Jewelry Makeover project. Sponsored by Ethical Metalsmiths, RJM is a traveling initiative that partners with metalsmithing departments, local jewelers, and the community to transform unwanted jewelry into new pieces, then showcases them in an exhibition, the proceeds of which fund scholarships and Ethical Metalsmiths' vision of sustainable and informed craft.

I never could imagine that I would one day be able to take part in such a cool project, but this year RJM traveled to Wisconsin! Centered out of UW-Milwaukee, metalsmithing students from UW-Madison, UW-Stout, and UW-Whitewater were invited to create work. After an intense 2-week donation drive for jewelry, all the collected pieces were gathered up and dispersed to each program, and then the making began! A big thank you goes out to my coworker Chloe Darke, who spearheaded all administrative and marketing of the project in Madison. Some fruits of her labor can be seen here and here.

Last Friday was the opening of the RJM:WI exhibit, and we traveled to Milwaukee to enjoy the event. The Union Art Gallery team did a fantastic job of displaying all the work, and a performer was hired to recite some of the stories that donors shared about their old pieces. Awards were given, and I was presented a scholarship for creating a piece that won the "What I'd Most Like to Wear" category. Much thanks to juror/Ethical Metalsmiths director (and Madison grad!) Susie Ganch and the organizers, for that distinction. 

It was a fantastic evening - we met metalsmithing professors and students from all over the region, and enjoyed the jewelry, food, drink, and conversation for several hours before leaving. There was much to celebrate, as many pieces sold the night of the exhibition. The show will be on view through May 11th, so there is plenty of time to visit. There is also an upcoming exhibition catalog, with a release date TBD.

Below are some images of work I made, a collaborative necklace from the UW-Madison metals department fabricated from melted down silver and gold jewelry, and snapshots of the show itself.