When you think of the tradition of silver in New York, it’s reasonable for thoughts to turn to historic pieces such as ornate trophies or intricate tabletop goods.
An exhibition recently unveiled at the Museum of the City of New York, though, handily proves that silver is a vibrant, viable material that remains at the heart of creativity.
“New York Silver, Then and Now” is a bold step, an exhibition designed to create a dialogue among 25 contemporary artists, silversmiths and designers and outstanding works of New York silver in the museum’s permanent collection.
The contemporary works of art – original pieces created with a modern audience in mind – are displayed alongside their historic interpretation, often to stunning results.
We were fascinated, for example, by the way Myra Mimlitsch-Gray homed in on the most intricate details of an 18th-century tankard by Benjamin Wynkoop to create her own statement, “Magnification: Engraving.”
Meanwhile, the social commentary was clear in another pairing. An 1889 Tiffany & Co. Goelet Prize for Sloops, an award on which idealized females swirl across its base, sparked Amy Roper Lyons’ “Women’s Work #1.” The contemporary sculpture depicts a realistic female figure, showcasing strength and purpose as a meditation on beauty.
Throughout, techniques are explored and advances are spotlighted through works sometimes decorative, other times practical.
“New York Silver” is organized by guest curator Jeannine Falino. WAG has had the pleasure of working with the New Rochelle woman numerous times over the years, so was happy to catch up with her at the press preview.
“I thought it would be really fun to include people from other aspects of the creative arts,” she said of how the contemporary participants were chosen. “I have to say everyone was really, really willing to go outside their comfort zones.”
And, in doing so, conversations have been encouraged on topics ranging from the role of women to the use of slave labor in mining, from silver’s place in society to the ways art reflects its own times — and much more.
As she looked over the dozens of pairings that will fill the museum’s Tiffany & Co. Foundation Gallery through June 2018, Falino had a moment to reflect on the project.
“This is really fun,” she said. “It’s definitely not your grandmother’s silver.”
For more, visit mcny.org.
– Mary Shustack