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What is Contemporary Jewelry (and Why Should We Care)?

September 23, 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm


What is Contemporary Jewelry (and Why Should We Care)? | Thurs. September 23, 2021 | 6:30 pm EDT | LIVE on ZOOM

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Join us for a panel discussion with contemporary jewelry historians and experts Helen W. Drutt English, Elizabeth Essner, and Bella Neyman, with Philadelphia-based artist Caroline Gore.

Portrait of Helen W. Drutt EnglishHelen W. Drutt English (Helen Drutt) was Founder/Director of her eponymous gallery in Philadelphia (1973–2002), which was among the first in the United States to commit to the modern and contemporary craft movement. In 1973, she developed the first syllabus for a college-level course of the history of the field.

She has received numerous awards and three honorary degrees, including a doctorate from Alfred University. Drutt is a fellow of the American Craft Council, and serves on the American Board, National Gallery of Australia; the Peter Dormer Lecture Advisory Committee, London, and the American board of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, Athens. She was a trustee of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (2010-21); served on the Advisory Committee, Indian and Himalayan Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art (1996-2019); and was a curatorial consultant for The Hermitage Museum Foundation: USA (2013-15).

Drutt built a permanent collection of contemporary crafts for the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, and is building a collection of American craft for the National Museum of Sweden. Her own collection of international studio jewelry has exhibited in the US and abroad; in 2002, 800 works entered the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Jewelry exhibitions organized by Drutt include, “Brooching it Diplomatically: A Tribute to Madeleine K. Albright” (1998-2001), “Challenging the Chatelaine!” (2006-07), American studio jewelry for the Museo del Gioiello Vicenza, Italy (2016-18), and most recently “Rings!” at Moore College of Art, Philadelphia (2021), which will travel in 2022.


Eliazabeth EssnerElizabeth Essner is an independent curator, writer, and researcher based in Brooklyn, New York. She has curated exhibitions for the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut, Arizona State University Art Museum, and R & Company in New York, where she organized Body/Motion, a solo exhibition of the Japanese-born, Thailand-based jeweler and artist Aya Ito. Recently, Elizabeth served as a researcher for RINGS!, curated by Helen Drutt at Moore College of Art & Design. She was also a co-author and researcher for the recently published Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection, the companion catalogue to an exhibition and gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A 2017 Curatorial Fellow with the Center for Craft, Elizabeth received her MA from the Bard Graduate Center in New York.


Bella NeymanBella Neyman is the co-founder of New York City Jewelry Week. She is also an independent curator and journalist specializing in contemporary jewelry. Most recently she served on the Curatorial Advisory Committee for “45 Stories in Jewelry: 1947 to Now” (on view through 2022) at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.  Since graduating with a Master’s Degree in Decorative Arts and Design History from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum & Parsons, The New School for Design in 2008, she has worked for some of New York City’s leading design galleries. Bella’s articles have been published in The New York TimesAmerican Craft, and the Magazine Antiques. She is also a frequent contributor to Metalsmith magazine. Bella lectures on topics related to the history of jewelry at the 92Y Jewelry Center and Christie’s Education. She is on the Board of Art Jewelry Forum. Bella and her family reside in Brooklyn.



Caroline Gore’s studio practice is deeply rooted in jewelry and metalsmithing processes – although outcomes vary in media, scale and implementation ranging from jewelry to sculptural installations, photography and large-scale drawing.  She maintains a studio in northeast Philadelphia at the Crane Arts Building.  Her teaching career has spanned 20 years at numerous institutions in the United States and abroad.  Her work often circles around investigations of site and the direct and often indirect relationships we have to place and objects through experience and remembering.  She is currently represented by Gallery Loupe located in Montclair New Jersey, and her work can be found in the permanent collection of The Museum of Fine Arts – Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts – Boston, Racine Art Museum, and numerous private collections.


This event is free to the public. The Center for Art in Wood interprets, nurtures, and champions creative engagement and expansion of art, craft, and design in wood to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of it. A suggested donation of $5 per person enables us to provide programs and exhibitions throughout the year.


For questions, contact Katie Sorenson, Senior Manager of Partnerships and Engagement, at [email protected]


September 23, 2021
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


The Center for Art in Wood
(215) 923-8000
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The Center for Art in Wood
141 N 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106 United States
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(215) 923-8000
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