Gem and Jewelry Art at the Carnegie Museum

The Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh is hosting its fifth annual Gem and Mineral Show Nov. 21-24. The show will again feature the works of the Gem Artists of North America (GANA), with a special spotlight on the North American Gem Carvers (NAGC), which this year is focusing on making jewelry with gem art. Priscilla Palmer, NAGC spokesperson, says that when gem artists and jewelry designers get together, a new genre of artistic expression emerges.

Gem artists Thomas McPhee, Nicolai Medvedev, Susan Allen, Michael Christie, Gil Roberts, and Gary Knack are among the group of innovative gem carvers and faceters whose works will be exhibited. All of them, says Palmer, challenge the status quo.

Worldwide recognition of GANA and NAGC members has been slow in coming. It was in the early 1980s that a small group of like-minded artisans came together to promote their craft and create jewelry on an artistically superior level. “They’ve since crossed the boundaries of what was considered simply wearable adornment,” Palmer says.

The jewelry collection of NAGC president Philip E. Louer Jr. is a prime example. “With art that is jewelry, the stone is the centerpiece, and the carefully designed gold work supports the gem work—and the gem responds to it,” Louer says.

Goldsmith Ocean Rose describes the process of creating gem jewelry as a complex collaboration. “You have to form a relationship with the piece,” she explains. “You have to get a feeling for what it is going to be. For instance, I’ve worked with Thomas McPhee’s carvings, and I have a real sensitivity for the artwork that he does. I think Thomas put it in musical terms—it’s kind of like a duet. I have to be able to make the gold look like it belongs to the carving. I have to plug in to his imagination of what it is about.”

For more information, visit the GANA and NAGC Web sites at www.gemartists.org and www.northamericangemcarvers.com. For information on the Carnegie Museum, call (412) 622-3236 or visit www.carnegiemuseums.org.