Iris Eichenberg - Where Words Fail

Guest Curator Davira Taragin


Since the mid-1970s, artists worldwide have reacted against the age-old exclusivity and preciousness of jewelry, advocating for conceptual statements creatively fabricated primarily from a wide assortment of nonprecious materials.  With a thirty-year and counting studio practice centered first in Europe and now in America, German artist Iris Eichenberg is one of the most influential contributors to this discourse. Because of her tireless interrogation into materiality, Eichenberg exemplifies what noted critic and curator Glenn Adamson calls the “postdisciplinary” artist. Instead of focusing on one medium and process, Eichenberg continually seeks to find the craft processes and combination of materials that best suit the idea at hand. An educator and prolific artist who lectures and conducts workshops worldwide, she imparts this methodology—a direct outcome of the open, creatively tolerant environment she enjoyed while working in Amsterdam—to the numerous international jewelry artists who come to study with her.
In today’s world with its outcry for social justice, Eichenberg engages the viewer in conversations that embrace such timely topics as gender and identity, the search for a safe, welcoming haven, and the veracity of reality. In fact, having lived and worked in Germany, the Netherlands, and now the United States, Eichenberg brings to contemporary jewelry and metalwork an unusual multicultural perspective. Better known for her jewelry than the objects that largely constitute her present practice, she has created work that ranges from amuletlike forms to reflective, often wistful installations. One of her underlying subjects is the body, which she references using recurrent motifs in a provocative, at times direct, at times poetic, manner.
Iris Eichenberg: Where Words Fail will be the first comprehensive mid-career survey in the United States of this artist’s aesthetic, with key loans of jewelry, objects, and installations from international private and public collections, and accompanied by an illustrated publication. The exhibition will comprise approximately forty works documenting Eichenberg’s development from her groundbreaking graduation show at the Rietveld to new statements created specifically for this exhibition.