Check out this article written by a friend of mine (and fellow Darmouthian) Peterson Chee Brossy. The article is titled "How To Break Jewelry" and was published in the IAIA Chronicle, the official online newspaper for and by the students of the Institute of American Indian Arts.
The article takes a look at jewelry made by IAIA students; and Brossy features one student, Brian Fleetwood (Creek) who combines biology, science and art in his jewelry creations.
"The popular market for Native jewelry has an unofficial definition of what it should be: it has to be silver, turquoise, with southwestern motifs, like concho belts with geometric “tribal” designs, squash blossom necklaces. But there’s also a push from Native jewelers to broaden its scope. Experimentation isn’t always rewarded—neither by the market, or by critics, be they Native or not.
Fleetwood butts against convention whenever he sits down to make a piece. “Pan-Indianism really gets on my nerves,” he says, taking a break from the silver honeycomb and leaning back in his chair. “I think it’s important to recognize the distinct cultures within that—it’s not just one homogenous thing. Nothing against Southwestern jewelry, but that’s not all there is. People get accused of, ‘Oh, that’s not Indian jewelry’ if they do their own thing.”
This is jewelry. It is not “wearable sculpture” or “architecture for the body” or anything else but jewelry. At least, this is the case Fleetwood and IAIA jewelry instructor Mark Herndon are making: We shouldn’t have to feel the need to qualify jewelry with sculpture, or architecture, to raise its status when we see a piece we like—jewelry is an art of its own, as is sculpture, painting, drawing. To erase any idea that it is a “low art” is to open jewelry up to what it can be."