Jewelry becomes new again for metalsmith instructor
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News May 10, 2012 8:08PM
Elise Kendrot prepares a jewelry display for the Costume to Custom Jewelry Repurposing Project. SUBMITTED PHOTOS
If you go
What: Celebrating Sustainability Student Art Exhibit
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday
Where: Gallery 7, 116 N. Chicago St., Suite 102, Joliet
Contact: 815 726-1840
Updated: June 12, 2012 8:09AM
JOLIET — One day, Joliet Junior College adjunct metalsmith teacher and sculptor Elise Kendrot asked herself, “How can I create work which confronts environmental issues when I can’t track the materials I’m using?”
That question led to research about ethical metalsmithing (www.ethicalmetalsmiths.org) and participation in two projects related to Joliet Junior College’s May 19 giant ecology fest: GR2012 Celebrating Sustainability.
One is the Costume to Custom jewelry repurposing project. The second is the Celebrating Sustainability Student Art Exhibit, a student show of 70 exhibits addressing sustainability at Gallery 7 in Joliet. The show runs through Wednesday.
“Mining is one of the most detrimental things we can do to the Earth,” Kendrot said, “but I’m using the material myself. At a certain point, I have to reconcile that with the concepts I’m talking about.”
Kendrot passed out fliers to her JJC co-workers and asked them to donate their used jewelry. She also contacted local schools with an invitation for students to create a variety of original pieces on “sustainability” and “sustainable communities” for a show. As the responses poured in, Kendrot got busy.
First, she assembled a team of eight people to brainstorm new designs. In addition to Kendrot, that team included JJC adjunct metalsmithing instructor Bev Decman, Deb Neumayer of New Lenox, Jenny Darby of Joliet, Marian Corley of Joliet, Allison Stevens of Shorewood, Dixie Wiley of Custer Park and Sandy Cannon of Minooka
Then, from the hundreds of necklaces, earrings and pins she received, Kendrot and her team fabricated hundreds of original, new pieces.
“People don’t want to throw away their mother’s jewelry or donate it to Good Will, where they won’t know what happens to it,” Kendrot said. “This way, they will see it have new life.”
Some items merely required polishing and modification; others, broken beyond repair, were disassembled for parts. Rhinestone brooches and pins, popular in the 1950s and now revamped, are catching the eyes of teens.
For the Gallery 7 student art show, exhibits include such mediums as sculpture, photography, painting, found objects and collage. Kendrot is impressed at the sophistication and maturity of thinking the students channeled into their works.
“Kids can be much more flexible in their thinking than adults,” Kendrot said. “It was encouraging to see that, when given a concept, they found a way to run with it. ”
For more information on Kendrot and her projects, visit www.elisekendrot.com.