Artist Statement

Shelly McMahon is a contemporary jeweler working conceptually within the field of craft. Incorporating non-skilled labor as well as non-traditional materials into her practice, she uses research about the neuropsychological effects that faceted gemstones in fine jewelry have on our attention in order to devise algorithms for the creation of ornament. Her work investigates what causes the brain to block out the majority of incoming visual stimuli in favor of a singular one. In this way, her pieces explore methods of commanding attention through material and perspectival manipulation. Historically, costume jewelry mimics fine jewelry in nonprecious materials, broadening access to luxurious “gems”. Shelly’s work takes a philosophical departure from costume jewelry by accepting the inevitable failure of the copy and uses this as an entry point into the fabrication of her work. She creates jewelry in a space where craft as a method of production is at odds with replicating gemstones in a completely subjective manner. Thus, tension exists between the reality of the pieces and our associations with the different classes of jewelry. Upon completing her BS in Mathematics and MEd, Shelly received her BFA from the University of Oregon in 2012.