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wadibijou
A mystical place of timeless enchantment, fantasy, and desire.
A place where a woman can fulfill the vision of her imagination.

The original inspiration for my work is rooted in two personal childhood fascinations. The first is an attraction to small objects for their brightness, texture, or shape: the smooth stone, seashell, mica-flecked rock, seedpod, sand-worn bone, glass bead, bottle cap, mother-of-pearl button - all holding some hidden wondrous quality. The second is an admiration for the culture of ancient Egypt triggered by early visits to New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and exposure to Hollywood's historical costume epics such as The Egyptian and Claudette Colbert's Cleopatra.

When the jewelry first started to take shape, the Egyptian influence was the strongest, defining the formal symmetrical lines of each piece. But the materials were those childhood secret treasures, my version of the amuletic qualities important to the ancient Egyptians. Later, I became interested in all forms of body adornment. Although many cultures produce ornaments as formal and symmetrical as Egyptian jewelry, I am attracted to the asymmetry of assemblages that capture the randomness of nature and the fetishlike quality of the materials. In many ways, jewelry is my way of connecting to the magical aspects of life.

After years of creating the jewelry for my own pleasure, I decided to make it available to a wider audience. The first piece sold through the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) during the 1979 "King Tut" exhibition. In the course of the following decade, the jewelry was retailed through Henri Bendel, numerous galleries in New York City (Soho, Greenwich Village, Fifth and Madison Avenues), at the Elaine Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton, as well as galleries in southern California, Florida, and Texas. Select pieces were chosen for inclusion in the sales exhibitions "Body Adornment" at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute and "Art to Wear" at the Northern Illinois University Art Gallery in Chicago in conjunction with Convergence '88, the international biennial fiber conference hosted by the Handweavers Guild of America. Three pieces were also shown in the juried exhibition "Colorado 1990" at the Denver Art Museum. The jewelry made its national television debut on The (Bill) Cosby Show. Later a piece was purchased for use in the Robert Redford movie Legal Eagles. The first nationwide recognition came earlier, however, on the cover of New York magazine. Several pieces were also featured in Women's Wear Daily.

Eventually the lure of ancient Egypt proved too strong to resist. Graduate school and a career in Egyptology beckoned. Now after a hiatus of twenty years, the jewelry is once again available. The collection will feature some of the popular styles of the past and new ones as they develop.

- Diane Victoria Flores
diane@wadibijou.com