Talented Greek Artists at the Museum of Arts and Design

By Eleni Sakellis

NEW YORK – Among the 54 artists from 21 countries participating in the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) annual exhibition and sale of contemporary art jewelry entitled LOOT: MAD About Jewelry, are Greek artists Amalia Petsali and Labros & Semeli- the partners in life and work Semeli Androulidaki and Labros Papageorgiou.

Now in its 17th edition, LOOT presents a cross-section of the most exciting cutting-edge art jewelry designs, while offering the public a rare opportunity to meet and acquire pieces directly from some of the most skilled creators in the field. A striking example of the evolving possibilities of jewelry as an art form, LOOT: MAD About Jewelry champions the vision and craftsmanship of outstanding art jewelers—most of whom have never before shown work in the United States.

Each year, collectors and jewelry enthusiasts flock to MAD’s LOOT event to learn about jewelers’ processes, materials, and concepts, and to purchase works directly from their makers. With all of the designers present on site throughout the exhibition and sale, LOOT is one of New York’s most unique museum experiences. Proceeds benefit MAD’s exhibition and education programs.

“MAD and LOOT celebrate not only the work of artists, but also the artists themselves,” said LOOT Curator Bryna Pomp. “The artists love relinquishing the relative isolation of their individual studios to discuss their jewelry with LOOT visitors and to meet their international colleagues. In this way, MAD fulfills its mission not only to the public but to the artists.”

The dramatic designs in an impressive array of materials from the classic gold, silver, precious and semi-precious gemstones to the more unusual including paper, recycled plastic, driftwood, and even skateboards, ensure that there is something for every taste in jewelry at this wonderful show and sale. The event runs through April 8 and the work of Petsali and Labros & Semeli are among the highlights not-to-be-missed. The Greek artists spoke with The National Herald about their work at a press preview on Monday, April 3.

Petsali originally studied painting, and got her degree from the Athens School of Fine Arts and the ENSAD School of Arts in Paris. For years, she painted, taught, and presented her work in several individual and group shows, in Greece and internationally. Her investigation into color and design led to an interest in microsculpture using wood, wire, textiles, and metals, and finally to the designing and making of jewelry. Petsali proceeded to study silversmithing and gemology, and today she creates handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry using gold, silver, and semiprecious stones.

Together with Yannis Papatheodorou, she runs AMAYA, a small workshop-studio in the center of Athens. Their jewelry can be found in shops all over Greece. Making “wearable little sculptures” is their goal and judging by the work presented at LOOT, they have succeeded.

The bold collection presented at LOOT, Petsali told TNH is gold-plated silver. The Zig Zag Collection, as it is called, is bright and geometric, recalling ancient themes and naturalistic forms, but with a decidedly modern look.

From chains to bracelets and earrings, the designs are beautiful and wearable for any occasion. Petsali noted that this is only one collection and though not included in this sale, necklaces based on the traditional-style filakto have recently been very popular in Greece and will perhaps catch on among the diaspora, as well, who are familiar with the idea of the filakto.

Each one is unique, Petsali told TNH, and also mentioned that she will be back in New York for an upcoming show that will feature Greek artists in November. More information on Petsali and her work is available online at www.amayajewels.gr.

Labros & Semeli are not only a charming couple, but also gifted artists. From Paros, they grew up in Athens, as Labros told TNH, noting that making jewelry is a very Greek occupation, and their work is based on the Ancient Greek aesthetic- rethought. Their elegant designs in gold-plated silver are inspired, Labros said, “by two main pillars- natural forms recreated through sculpture and our Greek heritage that emanates naturally from within us. We didn’t plan it, but it came out this way.”

Being raised in Athens, surrounded by the most impressive examples of the Ancient Greek aesthetic undoubtedly influenced the artists, though some might say the opposite can happen as well with artists turning towards more contemporary forms of expression. Labros & Semeli seem to have found a perfect balance between the ancient and modern, in their fantastic, dynamic pieces. More information about Labros & Semeli is available online at www.LabrosSemeli.com.

LOOT: MAD About Jewelry runs through April 8 at the Museum of Arts and Design. More information is available online at www.madmuseum.org/loot/loot-2017.


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