San Diego Historical Society Museum

photo: John Hazeltine

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA



Elegant Fantasy: The Jewelry of Arline Fisch


The work of internationally acclaimed artist Arline Fisch will be the subject of the San Diego Historical Society's exhibition, Elegant Fantasy: The Jewelry of Arline Fisch, February 11 through July 30, 2000. Though Ms. Fisch, a San Diego resident, has exhibited her work all over the world, this exhibition will be the first to explore the full range of jewelry designs and innovative techniques that have inspired her pioneering work. (left: Arline Fisch, 1998, photo by Carol Sonstein)

Ms. Fisch's works are held by the San Diego Historical Society, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Vatican Museum in Rome, the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the American Craft Museum in New York, the National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and other prominent institutions.

The Smithsonian has recognized Ms. Fisch as one of America's most important artists, and described her work as: "highly personal and inventive in form, retaining an air of delicacy and femininity." In acquiring Body Ornament as well as several other of her designs, the National Museum of Art determined they were works by an artist: "recognized as significant for the development of twentieth century American craft...Throughout her career, Ms. Fisch has displayed a preference for dramatic rather than discreet jewelry." (left: Arline Fisch, Bracelet and Glove Arm Ornament, 1999, coated copper, fine silver, machine and hand knit, photo by William Gullette)

Bob Witty, Executive Director of the Society, said, "We are always delighted when we can present the work of someone who is both a San Diegan and an internationally recognized artist, as is Arline Fisch. She has extraordinary talent as a jewelry artist."

Denny Stone, the Society's Curator of Costumes and Textiles, said, "Ms. Fisch's work explores the relationship between jewelry and the body. Her interest in ornament for the entire human form has led to work that pushes the boundaries between jewelry and dress. Her collars and body ornaments draw inspiration from historic costume and the jewelry of other cultures. Her emphasis on the human body manifests in work that engages the senses in subtle and profound ways. The feel of the jewelry on the skin, the rustling sound it makes, how it moves with the wearer, the play of colors and textures, even smell are integral to her jewelry--part of it's wearable magic." (left: Arline Fisch, Arethusa, pendant, photo by William Gullette)

With her seminal book Textile Techniques in Metal for Jewelers, first published in 1975, Arline Fisch opened a genre to create forms that in her own words "exalt the wearer." Working primarily in gold and silver, her handcrafted designs have become a part of an international movement that has revitalized jewelry as an art form. Most notable among her achievements in jewelry design has been her integration of metal weaving techniques into the discipline. Also referred to as metal-knitting, her groundbreaking methods are now considered standard among contemporaries. (right: Arline Fisch, The Devil Himself, pectoral, photo by William Gullette)

Named a "Living Treasure of California" by the State Assembly in 1985, Ms. Fisch is recognized internationally as a leader in contemporary jewelry design. A professor at San Diego State University since 1961 and founder of that institution's jewelry program, she is the recipient of numerous honors including four Fulbright Grants, four National Endowment for the Arts Grants, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Other professional honors include service as a trustee on the American Craft Council since 1994 and president of the Society of North American Goldsmiths from 1982 to 1985. (right: Arline Fisch, English Garden, necklace, photo by William Gullette)

A 128-page color illustrated catalogue, published by Arnoldsche Art Publishers, will accompany the exhibition and features essays by David McFadden, Chief Curator of the American Craft Museum, Robert Bell, Curator of Craft and Design of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Dr. Ida Katherine Rigby, professor at San Diego State University, and extended commentary by Ms. Fisch. The catalogue is available for purchase from the Society's Museum Store or via its website.

An extensive educational program will complement the exhibition, including a lecture series scheduled on March 25, May 20, April 28, and June 16, 2000. The first three sessions will be led by Ms. Fisch and the final by the Society's Curator of Costumes and Textiles. In addition, on the first and third Sundays of each month, February through July; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., free workshops will be held in which children and adults can experiment together in creating jewelry. The exhibition's educational component also includes a free study guide offering insights into jewelry as an art form and an entertaining children's guide teaching basic geometry through the exploration of Ms. Fisch's designs and techniques. Please call the Society's Education Department at 619-232-6203, ext. 149 for more information on the ancillary programming and the scheduling of group tours. (left: Arline Fisch, Gold Washed Leaves, necklace, photo by William Gullette)


Read more about the San Diego Historical Society Museum in Resource Library Magazine


rev. 12/27/10

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