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Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - Page updated at 04:30 a.m.

Art review
Jewelry exhibition is witty, wordy, all by women

By Nancy Worssam
Special to The Seattle Times

The thing about contemporary jewelry is that it knows no bounds. Any shapes, any sizes, any materials, any concepts are welcome. The work of the 14 jewelry artists featured in “Women Working Words” currently on display at Facèré more than proves that point. Each artist features words or calligraphy in the pieces she created for the show, and the unexpected diversity of the individual works is thrilling.

By far the largest pieces are by Richland artist Marcia Keefer. She’s represented by a 2-foot long, sinuous necklace of antique-dictionary pages that she’s punch-cut and tightly sewn together. The wearer can riffle the pages as if they were in a book or let them assume their own movement as she walks about. Keefer’s similarly made boa is at least 4 feet long.

Sarah J.G. Wauzynski, from Ellensburg, manages to provide volumes in tiny spaces. In silver lockets little more than 2 inches tall she presents a world. One locket called “A to Z” opens to reveal a folio, painted in egg tempera, of native Washington plants from A to Z. Another tiny, jewel-encrusted locket contains a Dorothy Parker dog story.

Among Gail Rappa’s works is a spellbinding bracelet. Called “Freedom,” it is three-dimensional and made of sterling silver, gold, coral, jet and jewels. The front consists of a series of joined squares, each of which depicts a home. The underside is inscribed with “Perhaps true freedom is having a home to return to.”

Many of the works are beautiful in a traditional manner. Some have subtle beauty. There are pieces that are outlandish and others that are downright funny. Marina Marioni, of the glassblowing family, offers witty jewelry. One lovely sterling-silver bracelet is composed of four silver ovoids. Each has within it a tiny embroidered figure that is covered with clear resin: an eye, a jester, a door and a ewe. Can you figure out what it says? When you do, you’ll agree that it’s the perfect Valentine gift.

London artist Katherine Richmond works with 18th-century words and images. One of her pieces, “Tears,” is a brooch that doubles as a wall hanging. The oblong brooch contains the face of a woman from more than two centuries ago. She’s the removable central figure in the larger interior scene that includes an inscription and makes up the wall hanging. Richmond uses silver, balsa wood, paper and sometimes pearls. They uniquely combine the modern and the antique.

Karen Lorene, owner of Facèré, conceived this show as a celebration of women. She contacted female artists throughout the United States and overseas. The fact that a number of these artists are from Washington state is not surprising.

For more than 50 years Central Washington University, the University of Washington and Pratt Fine Arts Center have been leaders in developing the talents of contemporary jewelers. The 100 or so pieces at Facèré are testimony to the creativity, workmanship and sophistication of all these artists.

Nancy Worssam:

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