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Eric Rhein

Contemporary artist-made jewelry is a broad eclectic mix, but even on the eclectic side Eric Rhein's work is distinctive. Strongly reminiscent of eighteenth century personal adornments, his jewelry is that of a person strongly grounded in theatre and costume. Composed of fabrics and an array of objects placed over an underfabric on a wire armature, they are closely related to his sculptural wearables. Both have a commanding theatrical presence.

"Most recently the work has evolved into sculptural free-standing costumes which express the character of the person who might have worn them, with each costume forming a sort of shell or monument to the wearer. The effect is that the persons have been extracted, but essence of their being is left in the costume. Although these structures allude to abstractions of cultural memory, by having their planes broken into geometric forms, they suggest the future as well."

Well traveled in the United States, Europe and Japan, Rhein exhibits and collects materials in these places. " When I am creating a piece I feel as much like an author as I do an artist, creating a transcultural dialogue as I diligently piece together fragments of materials I have gathered along my travels into unified images that live on their own accord. Like Marco Polo I bring back various fabrics, brocades and elements from the foreign lands which I encounter." Rhein wants viewers of his work to feel a sense of travel. Like those who viewed the treasures of Cathay, his jewelry can evoke a sense of wonder.

Robert K. Lui
December 1989

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