Walking into the bright OCAD University Graduate Gallery, the highly successful works of Jackie Anderson, Selina Chen, Fiona Kakei Chong, Nadya Eidelstein, Lauren Kalman, and Belle Wong animated the space. From Nadya Eidelstein’s wooden architectural accessories to Jackie Anderson’s colorfully mosaicked glasses, “Wearable or Not?” truly questioned the function of contemporary jewelry. The charming wood floors contrasting the white walls and soft ambient music were truly welcoming. I applaud Sylvia Zhang’s curation.
Although all the exhibited jewelry was impressive, Lauren Kalman appealed to me as the most striking. Based in Detroit, Michigan, this multi-media artist explores consumerism, body image and beauty in her practice. At the back of the gallery, four pieces from her “Devices for Filling a Void” series were displayed: two ivory biomorphic cylindrical shapes and two gold devices that resembled deformed orthodontics mouth-pieces. Beside the jewelry, photographs lined the wall demonstrating each accessory in use. Displayed in erotic and provocative ways, the photographs illuminated how much these jewelry pieces would deform the models face. Distorting the mouth, cheeks and nose of the wearer, Kalman puts into question socially defined aesthetic standards of beauty. I particularly enjoyed the skin blemishes and spots of upper lip hair that were seemingly untouched in these photographs. The suggestive nature of the shapes and the thick saliva dripping down from her mouth pointed towards eroticism.
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Written by Amanda Lindenbach.