Linda MacNeil: Wearable Glass Jewelry

Artist Linda MacNeil’s innovative use of glass to create elegant, wearable jewelry provides a unique opportunity for the Museum of Glass to present its first jewelry exhibition. MacNeil has been a pioneer in both the studio jewelry and studio glass movements since the 1970s. It was during that decade that MacNeil began fashioning a body of work that combines glass and nonprecious metals—more recently augmenting them with precious materials—to make exquisite adornments.

MacNeil’s sophisticated statements over more than 40 years have ranged from playful, often surrealistic pronouncements to formal compositions that sometimes reference fine jewelry from the great international houses of the 20th century. What unites all of MacNeil’s work is her passion for making and a concern for materiality that results in her pushing to the limits the inherent characteristics of the glass—its transparency, opacity, and reflective and refractive qualities. When juxtaposed with metalwork that is elegant, restrained, symmetrically arranged and often visually understated, the glass rivals precious gems and evokes jewelry and metal-smithing from ancient times through the art deco period to the present.

To date, MacNeil has created more than 700 necklaces, brooches and earrings. This retrospective exhibition and accompanying monograph, organized by guest curator Davira S. Taragin, is the first to explore in depth MacNeil’s work and her contribution to late 20th- and 21st-century American jewelry. The monograph covers MacNeil’s biography and discusses the development of her aesthetic and influences. Noted jewelry historian Ursula Ilse-Neuman contextualizes MacNeil’s contribution in the international art jewelry movement and in the use of glass in jewelry over the centuries.

The exhibition and monograph fully recognize for the first time Linda MacNeil’s significant contribution to contemporary glass and jewelry, says Taragin. “The scholarly examination of the development of this innovative jeweler’s stunning aesthetic and her position within the history of jewelry and adornment enhances the fields of both glass and jewelry.”

Linda MacNeil: Jewels of Glass is on display at the Museum of Glass until October 1, 2017.


For additional information:
Museum of Glass
1801 Dock St, Tacoma
253.284.4750 | 866.4museum