Story by Lisa Garibay
Pictures by Ivan Pierre Aguirre
Metalsmith and jewelry maker Rachelle Thiewes—who has been teaching at UTEP for more than 35 years—presented her first-ever retrospective entitled Something Gleams at the university’s Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, giving visitors the opportunity to see how accessories become art.
The exhibit was celebrated with an official public opening on Thursday, June 26 as part of the Rubin Center’s “Summer Celebration of the Arts”. The event also featured a newly commissioned mural by Gaspar Enriquez.
Something Gleams marks the first time many of Thiewes’ pieces will be on display in El Paso as well as at UTEP. The exhibit is a site-specific retrospective celebrating Thiewes’ work in the context of the place it was made: Here, in the starkly beautiful Chihuahuan desert landscape that has informed her decades-long study of light, movement, order and chaos.
Thiewes’ art is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Scotland, Victoria & Albert Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Museum of Arts & Design, among others. In 2009 she was named “Texas Master” by the Houston Center of Contemporary Craft and in 2010 was nominated for a United States Artist Fellowship.
Thiewes is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship, the University of Texas Regents Outstanding Award for Teaching and Distinguished Achievement Awards for Research and Teaching at UTEP. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Calder Jewelry, The Art of the Book, Jewellery Moves: Ornament for the 21st Century, One of a Kind: American Art Jewelry Today, The Best in Contemporary Jewelry, Jewelry in Europe and America: New Times, New Thinking; and American Craft;and Metalsmith.