Arline Fisch, Jewelry, Jellyfish and the School of Life

Last Saturday, the Craft in America Center was pleased to host a talk by the incomparable Arline Fisch, a luminary artist and true Living Treasure. This was a packed event and those who attended were not disappointed. Arline, who founded San Diego State University’s jewelry program, started her career, as she stated quite plainly by simply, “knocking on people’s doors to see who would allow her to work in their studio space.” Thanks to her sheer talent, conviction, curiosity and visionary versatility to float between metal and fiber work, many doors opened over the sixty odd years of her career.

Arline spoke about how knitting metal wire on tubes helped her works become what they are in more recent decades, from neckpieces and bracelets to jellyfish. But something that struck many of us about her talk was how she explained that her work began through inspiration from Egyptian civilization and Latin American culture. This, she explains, is why she makes her powerful, bold neckpieces and not necklaces. Because her neckpieces are extremely lengthy, they often had to be balanced throughout the front and back of the body to weight out the difference.

The images of her colored wire work were vibrant and left us wanting for more. Her progress through the years demonstrated a timeline of different techniques. We saw her earlier work, in which metal shapes were incorporated together to create singular works of beauty. Later, she created work that was made through braiding sheets of metal, creating a woven effect. This then led to some of her more vibrantly colored pieces, wherein Arline used thin-gauged wire to mimic the knitting process.

Arline’s talk gave us an intimate sense of how she developed certain methods over the years to create her jewelry. It was memorable, no doubt.  We will post footage of her talk shortly so you all can have a chance to watch and learn from this legend.