Photos by Lucy Morantz
Ever since discovering artist Cheryl Eve Acosta’s jewelry, I have been in love. A fashion show with women walking around in neck-high coral like collars? I’m there. New silver and bronze bracelets light to the touch? I’ve seen them. So when I heard her work was being featured at the Kemper Museum of Modern Art, I bugged my mom repeatedly to check it out with me, jumping up and down with lines like “Wanna go with me? Wanna go with me?”
And after checking out Acosta’s work at the Kemper, I have a few new items on my Christmas list.
From June 16 to Jan. 20, five women have their art, made predominantly of different medians or types of metal displayed at the Kemper. “Women to Watch” is a one-room gallery in which Acosta’s metal works take up a corner. There is still time to go discover Acosta’s jewelry and discover a new love for her oceanic and organic artistic style.
You can find this ocean themed jewelry enclosed in three cases displayed like a collectors shrine. Each includes three different color schemes: gold, blues, and grays, and styles to match each display.
When I walked up my eyes went immediately to the beautiful blue rings in the middle case surrounded by other jewelry following the same series of blues. Each ring is like a knife with sharp yet delicate edges. I’m sure my hands would have followed, like picking up a unique seashell on the beach, if it weren’t for the hovering security. The metal turquoise and rustic colored rings molded into swirling shapes like that of a snail shell. Cuffs were placed along the bottom and on the back as well while the necklaces were pinned up dangling down the backboard of the display.
When looking at it, my immediate thought was: I need to get back to the beach which makes sense after learning that Acosta gets her inspiration from the ocean and beach. The shells and coral found in an aquarium echo this metallic jewelry. Because she grew up in Puerto Rico, Acosta was surrounded by water. The colors and shapes used in her work resemble objects found along the seafloor. Each one is made of organic forms stacked or molded together resembling honeysuckles and shells made from metal.
The honeysuckle-like segments with deep blue centers fading out to cream edges were especially pleasing to study because of their colors. I found that these pieces made me think of nature and the raw natural beauty of it. Each one placed in front of the other made for a blue bracelet and long eccentric necklace. The long sides with multiple honeysuckle strands coming off of it and drooping down was unlike the necklaces you find at shops in the mall.
When I bent over the case to take a closer look I found clear beads snuggled in the bottom resting between the deep blue.
The ocean and beach theme were most obviously displayed in a few of the cuffs that resembled about 15 rustic-colored seashells glued to together. It was the type of item that seems almost too special to wear, like my mom’s wedding dress — it belongs in a box to be admired but not touched.
I could have stared at the array of blues and hidden beads within each design longer but after ten minutes, I realized I had only seen the first case.
The other two glass encasements were similar in that they held dark grey and gold filigree cuffs and collars, reminiscent of the Victorian era and their large regal collars. Just looking at the light and lacy collars with a metal backbone made me feel like a queen. These poised and delicate pieces reminded me of royalty. At the same time, the structure was reminiscent of scuba diving between and around coral.
Luckily, Acosta’s jewelry is more accessible than scuba diving in Kansas now. She has a shop located downtown called “Cheryl Eve Acosta/Sculptural Jewelry” as well as samples in other art galleries where someone can find a wider range of jewelry than shown at the Kemper.
My Christmas list is a lot longer with a few added swirly turquoise rings after seeing Acosta’s work. Because this is something I could not afford alone, like one of her simpler ring designs costing $235, the rings may be on my list for a while. Each piece from all three cases echoed the ocean and encompassed parts of its beautifully unique shapes in metal jewelry giving me an option to take my favorite place, the ocean, with me wherever I go. Hint hint wink wink @Santa.
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