Susan Lenart – Artist Statement + Resume

A piece of jewelry is more than just a beautiful accessory and more than the sum of its parts. In the past 30 years growing as an artist, I have travelled to Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, East Africa, Australia, Indonesia, France, and Croatia observing both nature and history. I visited small villages and marveled at being able to witness their ancient traditions. I found that history, art, tradition and culture can not help but to be a big influence on adornment. Culture becomes embedded into this medium through every stitched or stamped symbol in fabric and every carved and engraved mark in metal.

My journey to developing my voice in adornment has taken many twists and turns. After art school, I began collecting handmade traditional clothing, costumes, and jewelry. I spent two years repairing ethnographic jewelry. I found history and culture so fascinating that it has influenced my style. For example, nomadic cultures developed jewelry in order to wear their wealth. It was not only beautiful, but a core of their economies.

I’ve learned that the root of ancient adornment is storytelling. Adornment references specific symbolism created by the people showcasing what colors were around them, what food they hoped to catch, and what evil spirits they wanted to repel. It also was a visual history used to record wars, love, marriages, births and more. In these pieces, you can see their hopes, fears, and desires. Folk tales, music and dance directly influenced the shapes of jewelry. I witnessed beautiful cultural dances incorporating magnificent costumes and layers of jewelry moving and chiming with each drumbeat.

      Through my travels, I began to see a common thread. I collected magical pieces created of metal, stone, gems, marks, icons  and symbolism to protect from evil and to bring abundance, love, and prosperity. What fascinated me most were magical jewelry pieces called talismans, amulets and prayer boxes. They were personal pieces of adornment built with specific vibrations. Talismans spread their magic by visually representing a word or an object that makes you feel a particular emotion.  Talismans are built to bring us joy, happiness, and protection from evil.

Career Highlights

  • I built a high end handmade commercial line of silver jewelry which was carried by many larger stores such as Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, and Banana Republic.
  • My pieces were worn on the runway in New York Fashion Week and Milan Jewelry Week.
  • My pieces were published in the pages of Elle and Vogue magazine.
  • I won an award for my work at MIlan Fashion week. 
  • I built full bodies of work that went on museum tours, American Craft Council and galleries including Smithsonian, Renwick and the Art Institute of New York.
  • I taught international workshops where students explore, collect and build jewelry inspired by cultures in places like Indonesia, Australia, France, Morocco and India.
  • I built an incredibly successful commercial line of charms and talismans jewelry components for Michael’s Craft Stores called Industrial Chic.
  • I developed and brought to market a successful art product called Ice Resin that sold internationally through distributors and large craft stores. 
  • I wrote an Amazon Best Selling Book in 2013 called Alchemy of Resin which was a 10-year body of work based on the Ice Resin product.
  • I wrote a book on my collected knowledge on connecting, attaching and using cold joins called Making Connections. 
  • I created a Nomadic Metalsmithing tool kit perfect for students who travel or have small spaces. 
  • I created Intentional Metalsmithing to teach six of the main techniques I use to build my work.

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