In 1878, Alphonse Mucha's application to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague was rejected.
He was advised to “find a different career”. Now he’s one of Art Nouveau’s most celebrated artists.
The North Carolina Museum of Art just opened ‘Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau Visionary,’ and I'm honored to have designed jewelry for the exhibit.
These limited edition pieces can only be found at the exhibit's gift shop.
As a teenager, Alphonse Mucha was my favorite artist.
When I visited Prague for the first time in 1995, it wasn’t easy to find Mucha’s work. But in a small Czech village, Moravský Krumlov, I came across The Slav Epic—a 20-part series depicting the history of the Slavic people.
The paintings were housed in an unassuming building nestled in the woods. To enter, you had to agree to certain terms—most memorably, you had to wear very large, rather unattractive, slippers over your shoes.
But if I thought those slippers were big, I had no idea what was coming…
Shuffling along in my shoe-slippers, I absorbed the most monumental paintings I had—or have—ever seen, up to 26 feet wide and 20 feet high.
I was moved by the haunting eyes of Mucha’s subjects and his deep Czech pride.
His devotion to this project, to his people, left an impression on me.
Recently, I visited the Mucha Museum in Prague. It houses a plethora of Mucha's iconic work—which isn't so hard to find anymore!
Hearing about NCMA's 2021 exhibit, I really wanted to design something to commemorate the artist.
But Mucha’s work is ornate, embellished, rich with detail—could my modern style possibly crossover with his?
Mucha's own jewelry designs.
Then I stumbled across 'Combinaisons Ornementales,’ a pattern book from 1901 which features the Art Nouveau motifs of Mucha and two of his contemporaries.
I had discovered a way to bridge our two styles (and a wealth of inspiration).
From the beginning, I wanted to incorporate Mucha’s own art, his actual hand, into these designs. That would allow exhibit goers to take a little piece of the artist home with them.
Through these motifs, I was able to translate Mucha’s work into something simple enough to bring into the world of laser cut jewelry.