More {dope} Ndebele Art

NdebeleArt

I love the rich, bold patterns of the Ndebele tribe. The Ndebele artists, primarily women, rely on the environment for art supplies; water and soil for pigment and chicken feathers for paint brushes. Their patterns cover the exterior of their homes communicating rituals and rites of passages. Ndebele by Margaret Courtney-Clarke is a wonderful exploration of Ndebele art which includes intricate beadwork. It’s a wonderful book to have in your library.

{peace}

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Winifred Mason Chenet – Jewelry Designer

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(l to r) 1.  Vodun vévé necklace, brass, signed “Chenet d’Haiti,” photo by Scandimania; 2. Cuff, brass and copper, signed “Mason”; 3. Vévé Brooch, silver, c. 1945, signed “Chenet d’Haiti”; 4. Pin, copper, signed “Mason”; 5. Winifred Mason photo featured in Ebony Magazine, 1946.

As you may know, my second blog post featured Art Smith, an avant-garde jewelry designer during the mid-1900s. One thing I absolutely love about curating this blog is that I have to research and as a result, I discover more artists aka more dopeness. So while researching Art Smith, I found out he got his start working as a full-time assistant for a brilliant jewelry designer by the name of Winifred Mason-Chenet.

Winifred Mason-Chenet was a petite, stylish, and cultured lady who was absolutely dedicated to the artistic process. She believed in utilizing innovative practices to create custom designs for her clients which meant that no two pieces were alike. A few of her clients happened to be the “Who’s Who” of that era including jazz goddess, Billie Holiday. Like Art Smith, Chenet owned a storefront studio in Greenwich Village, NYC and sold her work in various boutiques and stores. In 1945, she received a Rosenwald Foundation Award to visit Haiti and study the local artisans. It was after this visit and her subsequent marriage to a Haitian artist that Chenet’s work evolved and she began incorporating Vodun spiritual drawings or vévés into her pieces.

There isn’t a lot of information about Chenet but what is available will blow your mind. Her jewelry speaks for itself, exuding power and artistic integrity. I can’t get over her audacity to use African cosmological elements in her designs. Please believe that I would LOVE to own any one of her pieces especially that Vodun vévé necklace!

Find out more about Chenet’s incredible career here: http://www.modernsilver.com/winifredmason.html.

{peace}

Arthur “Art” Smith – Jewelry Designer

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(l to r) 1. Model wearing “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, ca. 1948; 2. Art Smith in his studio; 3. Cluster Knuckles Ring, ca. 1968. Brooklyn Museum; 4. “Lava” Bracelet, ca. 1946. Brooklyn Museum; 5. Patina necklace; 6. Art Smith photographed by Arthur Mones, 1979.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing “From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith” at the Dallas Museum of Art. I was simply floored by Smith’s work and his story. Arthur “Art” Smith was a Jamaican-born, NYC raised jewelry designer who became a leader of the modernist design jewelry movement. In the mid 1940s, Smith opened Art Smith Studios in NYC’s Greenwich Village. It wasn’t long before Smith began selling his work in craft stores, boutiques, and major department stores (think Bloomingdale’s) throughout the US. By the early 1950’s, his work was featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and The New Yorker.

Smith’s designs incorporated surrealism, biomorphism, and African motifs. His jewelry ranged from small, simple pieces to larger works that would wrap around the body. I adore how he used lines, texture, and even color to create intricate movement along the human, specifically female, form. If I had to described his jewelry in one word, it would be {organic}. Check out more of Smith’s gorgeous designs at http://artsmithjewelry.com/.