With more than 130 examples of body adornment from 90 artists representing 25 countries in Bellevue Arts Museum’s Think Twice: New Latin American Jewelry there are infinite reasons to spend some time inside the exhibit’s two intimate, story-filled rooms. Here are my top three:
1. Beauty sometimes comes from math and history. I’m always open to the historical perspective but rarely do I think of numbers and equations influencing style and aesthetics. I’m just not wired to consider things that way, but Luis Acosta’s Quipus, brooches made with paper and thread, reference ancient Incan record-keeping knots that kept encoded numerical data. To the modern trend-watching, style-hunting eye, the elegant, deceptively complex red and white pieces would seem to be ancestors to the current crop of colorful, soft, knotted and wound necklaces that keep showing up on racks and runways.
2. You don’t know bling. Teresa Margolles’ Ajuste de Cuentas will school you. Based on the gawdy, showy accessories of Mexican drug lords and fabricated by jeweler who often works for drug dealers, her rings contain 18 karat gold, diamonds, and thick, glistening shards of windshield glass taken from drug-related crime scenes.
3. Bling sometimes comes from history. Miguel Luciano works with popular culture, consumer culture, and colonialism in his work; his platinum-plated plantain (yes, a real plantain) is a study of high gloss and fruit rot. Pictured here, the necklace looks like something a 90s rapper would’ve sported at the MTV awards. Inside, the banana from 2006 is far less glamorous.
The show , previously only shown at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, has been up since the end of May; it runs through October 16.