Metalsmith Explores Psychology & Perception of Value

Posted December 22, 2010 in Press Releases

Next month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) opens an unusual and highly anticipated exhibition, Lisa Gralnick: The Gold Standard, on view in the large gallery January 22 – May 28, 2011.The Gold Standard is Lisa Gralnick’s most recent body of work, spanning the last six years. A metalsmith by trade, Gralnick explores the relationship between gold’s lore and history as an artistic medium and the function it serves in today’s world as a commodity. Thought provoking and incredibly well crafted, the artist’s jewelry and sculptural works descend deep into the psychology and perception of value.

The Gold Standard is a series comprised of three parts. In Part I: Commodification and Sensible Economy, Gralnick casts recognizable commodities and objects in 18k gold and plaster. The amount of gold used on each piece represents the monetary value of the depicted object. Part II: Phenomenology and Substantialism, was borne out of the artist’s need to recycle gold from discarded jewelry and objects she collected. Gralnick “recorded” these objects before melting them down by casting them in plaster, leaving an eerie ghost of each object, sacrificed in order to fabricate a new creation. “I am fascinated by the endless cycle of matter, and of the cultural history that has evolved because of both the destruction and creation of objects,” Gralnick says about her work. In Part III: Transubstantiation and the Historicized Object, the artist employs the recycled gold to create an ironic collection of objects with invented histories—genuine forgeries informed by her own history and her fascination with times past, such as the Victorian era and its obsession with the body, death, sexuality and the repression of women. With each section, the artist delves further into the unique aspects of value—both personal and societal.

Lisa Gralnick completed her BFA in 1977 from Kent State University and earned her MFA from State University of New York, New Paltz, with a focus on gold and silversmithing in 1980. She served as the head of the Metals Program at Parsons School of Design in New York City (1991 – 2001) before she accepted her current position as Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her work can be found in many permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), Renwick Gallery (Smithsonian Institution), Museum of Arts and Design (NY), Boston Museum of Fine Arts, American Craft Museum (NY), Racine Art Museum (WI), Mizuno College of Jewellery (Japan), and Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam).

Lisa Gralnick: The Gold Standard is organized by Bellevue Arts Museum and curated by Nora Atkinson. This exhibition has been made possible by The Rotasa Foundation, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and Art Jewelry Forum.

Exhibition Dates
January 22 – May 28, 2011
Opening Events, Friday, January 21 Lisa Gralnick Gallery Talk, 5:00 PM Opening Reception, 5:30 – 8:00 PM

Mary Headrick (
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
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