A primary topic of conversation around the COUTURE office and during meetings with those in our community recently has been the concept of jewelry as art. In fact, the main theme that emerged from our recently edited “COUTURE Conversations” (more on that at a later date) was, “Is Jewelry Art?” When discussing the jewelry of the designers in our community, the answer is always an emphatic YES! Their medium just happens to be precious metals and stones.
With this in mind, we were thrilled to learn that our very own Katey Brunini was heading down to the largest art forum in the United States, Art Basel Miami, to be the Artist in Residence at The Betsy Hotel. We knew that Katey would be a fantastic ambassador for this exact topic of conversation, and we were delighted to learn she’d pushed the subject even further. Given that the event didn’t wrap until Sunday night, and we needed to go to press with this piece Monday afternoon, we didn’t have a chance to catch up with Katey herself–but we got the next best thing, a wrap up with Katey’s publicist extraordinaire, Shaye Strager:
COUTURE: Designers are constantly approached to “set up shop” at various events, what was it about this particular opportunity that appealed to Katey?
Shaye Strager: One of the main reasons Katey accepted The Betsy’s invitation to be their Artist in Residence was for the education aspect. For Katey, it was important to showcase how jewelry is both a worthy investment in the art world and a unique wearable art form. Her primary goal was to focus on educating art collectors, gallery owners and the affluent crowds that attends Art Basel on the art form of Couture jewelry.
COUTURE: It’s a very compelling subject, and one we’ve been discussing internally in depth; what was Katey’s approach to this important topic?
SS: Having Katey in the program discussions amongst artists and collectors gathered at The Betsy’s events gave her perspective of jewelry as a historical art form a voice that was both highly anticipated and enthusiastically welcomed. As Katey eloquently shared, Art Jewelry is an amalgamation of history, politics, religion, science, finance and sociology. Jewelry as a medium is as potent as any other art form in evoking emotion.
Jewelry is the finest example of art legacy that exists on the planet. Jewelry will outlast painting, sculpture and architecture, simply due to the materials. Pricing of Art Jewelry is far more than just the measure of metal and stone, but also creative property and investment of artistic value.
COUTURE: We know Katey is particularly passionate about nature, did that come up at all?
SS: In Katey’s work, nature exists alongside elegant luxuries, but the lines blur: rough textures of twigs forged in metal are juxtaposed with baroque pearls, wood and polished stones. She blends fine organic elements with rare gems AND alternative materials and found objects like bone, jet and moose antler. For example, she mixes diamonds and pearls with carved bone in a sculptural way to create one of a kind orchids, which is so identifiable to Katey’s nature-inspired brand. I don’t think you can look at Katey’s jewelry without feeling an immediate connection with the elements of nature that surround us…
COUTURE: Wow, it sounds amazing! So tell me about the jewelry, how was it displayed?! Did everyone fall in love with it?!
SS: The four vitrines were styled by Katey as one of each of the 4 elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. These are 4 basic elements that we cannot live without. Katey’s Objects Organique collection (one of her most popular to date) was born of a love affair with the four elements and further expands on the organic roots of her brand. The displays were poised as an invitation to connect with the elements and explore what represents you, through the beauty of fine jewelry.
One of my favorite moments was when a former NYC gallery owner, now based in the Miami Design District, ran up to Katey’s display and froze in front of the jewelry. She simply said, “I’m arrested by this necklace.” The necklace was from the Spirit Animals collection made of hand-carved Hummingbird’s made of jet, set with rubies and 18K gold. She found Katey, hugged her and thanked her for designing it. Moments like that were amazing to witness. Katey is an artist. Jewelry is her artwork and to see it understood, valued and recognized by this crowd of art historians and collectors was immensely special for me as one of her ambassadors.
COUTURE: We are proud to join you as Katey ambassadors! Thanks so much Shaye!