March 19, 2017
The Norton Museum of Art, located in Palm Beach, Florida, recently held its sixth Bijoux Contemporary Jewelry Art Sale. This year was my fourth time participating in Bijoux. From the very first moment that I arrived, I felt that this museum and this exhibition were more than just another show and retail opportunity. It felt more like my extended family abroad and a home away from home. Donna Schneier, Bijoux’s founder and chair, has a great eye for overseeing the selection of artists for the show. All the artists are of such a caliber that you are proud to exhibit alongside them and feel that they drive you to push your art further every year.
The museum’s donors and volunteers work tirelessly to set up, to help with whatever is needed and to assist the artists with their sales. All day long, they are ready with a smile and a kind word.
Four years ago, I reached a turning point in my career: I dreamed about art and creating one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that are not part of a commercial series. I was lucky to be invited by the Norton to Bijoux, thanks to AIDA (Association of Israeli Decorative Arts), which supports Israeli artists and establishes connections for them with important exhibitions and galleries, as well as providing scholarships. For the artist, Bijoux is a great opportunity to exchange ideas and offer encouragement. I am a self-employed artist who lives and works alone: the opportunity to spend the week engaging with other professionals in my field, especially with those from other countries, is a gift and a comforting reminder that I am a part of an international community of creators. For years, I confused the concepts of colleagues and friends. For years, I thought I was the problem - my inability to recognize where my art ends and my own self-begins. I never understood how important this very long week would be: setting up the exhibition and ten days of mingling creates a closeness with people who are supposed to be strangers.
The show seems to surpass itself every year. Speaking as an artist, recognizing your customers without any barriers gives you the opportunity and freedom to create without limits, which seems like a paradox: an artist is expected to create with no inhibitions, restrictions or customers in mind. Nonetheless, the fact that the Norton Museum attracts an adoring crowd that appreciates conceptual art and is ready to invest in a unique piece of jewelry gives me the freedom that no commercial collection would ever allow. Uli Rapp
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