I recently attended the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA). This year the conference was held in Chicago in conjunction with the exhibit Maker and Muse, Women and Early 20th Century Art Jewelry at the Driehaus Museum. Elyse Zorn Karlin, curator of the exhibit, is one of the founders and co-directors of ASJRA.
The first day of the conference began with a tour of the Driehaus Museum and a curator’s tour of the exhibit. Click here to see my post about the exhibit.
We then toured the Glessner House Museum, an 1887 house designed by Henry Hobson Richardson. Though of the same era as the Driehaus Museum, it stands in stark contrast with the ornate Driehaus. Built in Richardsonian Romanesque style, it is fortress-like on the outside and quite simple on the inside for such a large mansion. The interiors are decorated primarily with William Morris wallpaper and textiles.
It was also of interest to the conference because Mrs. Frances Glessner was a talented amateur jeweler, with several pieces in the Maker and Muse exhibit. The museum is in the Prairie Avenue historic district and at the end of our tour I used the free map available in the Glessner house gift shop to walk through this neighborhood.
The second day of the conference was held in the carriage house of the Glessner House Museum. Many of the conference speakers were contributors to the exhibit book, and elaborated on the theme of the exhibit, the roles of women in 20th Century Art jewelry.
The speakers were extraordinarily accomplished, many of whom had “written the book” on their area of specialization. The agenda was as follows:
- Yvonne Markowitz, Curator of Jewelry Emerita and Emily Banis Stoerher, Curator of Jewelry, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, speaking on Art Nouveau Jewelry
- Sharon Darling, author of Chicago Metalsmiths, speaking on Arts and Crafts Jewelry in Chicago
- Darcy Evon, author of Hand Wrought Arts & Crafts Metalwork and Jewelry: 1890-1940 speaking on Beyond Chicago: Midwestern Arts & Crafts Jewelry and Metalworkers
- Annamarie Sandecki, Corporate Archivist, Tiffany & Co., The Jewels of Louis Comfort Tiffany
- Elyse Zorn Karlin, Curator, Maker and Muse: Women and Early 20th Century Art Jewelry and author of Jewelry and Metalwork in the Arts and Crafts Tradition, speaking on British Arts and Crafts Jewelry in the Richard H. Driehaus Collection
- Janis Staggs, Assistant Curator Neue Galerie, New York and author of Wiener Werkstatte Jewelry, speaking on Jugendstil Jewelry
- Suzanne Flynt, Curator of Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield, MA and author of Poetry to the Earth: the Arts and Crafts Movement in Deerfield speaking on Madeline Yale Wynne: I Hate Pretty Work
- Elyse Zorn Karling speaking on Mrs. Newman, The First Woman Studio Jeweler
- William Tyre, Executive Director and Curator, Glessner House Museum speaking on Mrs. Glessner, An Extraordinary Woman
One of the great things about the ASJRA conference was that it was very focused and I feel that I’ve come away with a greater understanding of early 20th century art jewelry. The conference was also rather small – in a good way – with about 60 attendees, which allowed me to meet many of the attendees and speakers. I’m looking forward to attending future ASJRA conferences.