News, Traveling Project Makes New Masterpieces Out Of Donated Jewelry, What America Looks Like From Television

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A new book explores the depiction of America that is gathered from the consumption of its media– specifically TV. We talk to the author about the happy-living life found on many hot television shows versus America’s reality. We also learn about the Radical Jewelry Makeover project that has been in the works in Wisconsin and will be on display at the UW-Milwaukee Art Gallery beginning Friday, April 13th. We also take a look at a top news story.

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  • UW-Milwaukee Jewelry Project Reimagines Old Into New

    What happens to your jewelry after you’re done wearing it?

    That’s the thought behind The Radical Jewelry Makeover Project. With the community as a source, the project collects old, unwanted jewelry, sorts it, and redistributes it to community members to be turned into something new.

    In March, students and alumni from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, UW-Stout and UW-Whitewater campuses participated in the traveling project, putting their own spin on jewelry pieces from the surrounding communities.

    Starting a new jewelry piece from pieces with pre-existing history can be more challenging than just using raw materials, said Chelsea Nanfelt, a UW-Milwaukee student and curatorial lead on the UW-Milwaukee exhibition.

    “I think it forces you to be a lot more creative,” she said. “Because you’re given these opportunities to work with materials or objects that you might not normally use.”

    For one of her jewelry pieces, Nanfelt worked with tiny seeds, strung up in a large necklace. She normally works with metals like silver, copper or brass.

    Other artists were just as out of their element for the project.

    A piece created for the Radical Jewelry Makeover Project by UW-Milwaukee student Chelsea Nanfelt. Photo submitted by Chelsea Nanfelt.

    “It was anything from a collage of random bits that you found, or it could be melting down gold, using old stones, popping a stone out of a ring, putting those into earrings,” she said. “It could be melting down silver and creating something completely new.”

    The Radical Jewelry Makeover Project was started in 2007 by a group called Ethical Metalsmiths, which combines activism and art by forcing artists to think about where their materials come from, and the environmental impact of mining materials from the earth.

    The jewelry for this project had all kinds of origin stories, Nanfelt said. Some of it came from a death in the family or an old relationship. Some of it was from the donor’s younger years, maybe prom. Most just wanted to see it have a new life.

    “Mining” materials this way, instead from the people, can have a real community impact, Nanfelt said.

    “I see it as being very people-focused,” she said. “When you’re purchasing jewelry, you don’t necessarily think about the people that are mining the raw materials, you don’t think about the full picture of it all. And so it’s really incredible to see how the community came together and thought, ‘Well, we’ve got this huge collection of jewelry, what can we do with it?’”

    The jewelry will be on display at the UW-Milwaukee Union Gallery through May 11.

  • Radical Jewelry Makeover Creates New Out Of Old

    Radical Jewelry Makeover is a traveling project that uses public donations of unwanted jewelry to create new, original jewelry pieces. It originally started in 2007 by a group called Ethical Metalsmiths as a way to raise awareness about the need for sustainable sourcing for metals and other art materials. Now in its Wisconsin circuit, area students and artists have taken Wisconsin donations and created new pieces of jewelry. The jewelry will be on display and available for purchase at the UW-Milwaukee Union Gallery starting Friday, April 13th and running through May 11th. We talk to the curatorial lead of the project for more information.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Rachael Vasquez Producer
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Natalie Guyette Producer
  • Scott Wong Guest
  • Clara Rodriguez Guest
  • Chelsea Nanfelt Guest

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