A group of UW-Madison students are participating in a nationwide project aimed at creating beautiful pieces of jewelry, using sustainable and ethical practices.
The Radical Jewelry Makeover draws attention to the fact that jewelry is often sourced from sacred land and developing countries in ways that exploit both the land and the people living on it.
“Every single piece that is used in jewelry has to come from the earth, and is it extracted from the earth wisely, or is it done haphazardly with no thought to mankind and what is happening to each of us in this world?” said Florence Hardymon, a donor to the project in a promotional video.
The Radical Jewelry Makeover is a project of the nonprofit Ethical Metalsmiths, and it relies on donors like Hardymon for used pieces of jewelry in order to create entirely new pieces from the repurposed materials.
The project was created by Susie Ganch, a UW-Madison graduate and professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007. This is the first year it has come to the UW-Madison campus.
“I think it’s good to be part of anything that has a positive effect on the planet or that is just positive in general,” said assistant art professor Jeffrey Clancy in a news release. “A project like this promotes outreach, reinforces citizenship, and encourages being part of a larger community. Those are all concepts we talk about peripherally but don’t always bring directly into the classroom.”
Clancy brought the project to UW-Madison, although students at UW-Milwaukee and UW-Stout are also participating.
For Chloe Darke, a UW-Madison graduate student in metalsmithing, the project has changed the way she thinks about her art.
“I’d previously heard of Ethical Metalsmiths, but I hadn’t really considered applying what they do to my own studio practice,” Darke said in the release. “Now I’m trying to buy materials from businesses that I know are not harming the earth or negatively impacting human labor.”
The newly created jewelry will be on display from April 13 to May 11 at the Union Art Gallery at UW-Milwaukee, and will then be available for purchase. All proceeds will go towards scholarships for UW art students, and donated to Ethical Metalsmiths.