Majors

PBS’s ‘Craft in America’ Creates an Episode About Jewelry

MajorsSep 29, 2021

PBS’s ‘Craft in America’ Creates an Episode About Jewelry

Airing on broadcast TV in December, it explores the history, artistry, and impact of personal adornment.

Monongya is best known for his pieces that feature night sky designs inlaid into a bear shape, as seen on this pendant, symbolizing strength and power.
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Los Angeles—Craft in America, the award-winning series from PBS that explores the country’s creative spirit through the tradition of handmaking, will soon air an episode focusing on jewelry.

“Jewelry” will tell the stories of jeweler Tom Herman; artist Harriete Estel Berman, who creates jewels with recycled materials; the legacy of modernist jeweler Art Smith; nature-inspired artist Gabrielle Gould; and Navajo/Hopi master jeweler Jesse Monongya. 

Art Smith’s story (1917-1982), for example, is brought to life by artist Joyce J. Scott, photographer Michael Fields, art historian Leslie King-Hammond, and National Museum of African American History and Culture curator Joanne Hyppolite.

Smith’s avant-garde creations redefined modernism. He was known for making jewelry influenced by biomorphism—design meant to evoke nature and living organisms—and Surrealism, creating pieces dynamic in both style and form.

He trained at Cooper Union in New York City and sold his jewels at his store in Greenwich Village from 1946 to 1979. Smith’s work was featured in museums around the world, and he worked with some of America’s most prominent Black creatives. 


The episode will also include a visit to Harriete Estel Berman’s studio in San Mateo, California. 

The creative uses her jewelry to make statements about women’s roles and environmental sustainability, working with recycled materials to create pieces that challenge societal values. 

In addition to the artists and their creations, “Jewelry” will highlight places important to the celebration of the category—Arizona’s Heard Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine—as well as Ornament Magazine and the family team behind it. 

“Jewelry” will air on broadcast PBS on Dec. 10 (check local listings for specific time). The broadcaster will also give it an early digital release on the PBS Video App and its websites on Nov. 4. 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Work by the featured artists also will go on display at the Craft in America Center in Los Angeles from Dec. 11 to March 19, 2022. 

“Craft in America” has produced 27 episodes since 2007, from topics like “Quilts” and “Threads” to “Democracy,” “Identity,” and “Storytellers.” 

Several of those previous episodes also briefly touched on jewelry, including “Messages,” with a focus on using craft to tell a story, which featured New Orleans-based jeweler and sculptor Thomas Mann, and “Industry,” which highlighted the connection between consumer and maker, and spotlighted New York City jewelry artist Shane Yamane.  
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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