Scrimshaw Necklace

  • Mary Ann Scherr, Scrimshaw Necklace, 1975, sterling silver, ivory, and 14k gold, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist and museum purchase made possible by the friends of docent Alice Nelson in her memory, 1984.42

Luce Center Label

Originally a painter and an illustrator, Mary Ann Scherr draws inspiration from many cultures, past and present. In this necklace, she investigated methods of patterning ivory, recalling scrimshaw carvings of an earlier America. Scrimshaw was the art of etching on ivory or bone practiced by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and adopted by American whalers in the nineteenth century. President John F. Kennedy’s collection revived public interest in scrimshaw in the 1960s. In this piece, the ivory and silver are contoured to fit comfortably on the wearer’s shoulders.

Luce Object Quote

“My work is highly influenced by historical roots . . . My work reflects everything. It isn’t just this moment, and it isn’t only historically related.” Artist quoted in Handmade in America: Conversations with Fourteen Craftmasters, 1983

Title
Scrimshaw Necklace
Artist
Date
1975
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
8 1/2 x 7 1/8 x 4 in. (21.7 x 18.2 x 10.3 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the artist and museum purchase made possible by the friends of docent Alice Nelson in her memory

Mediums
Mediums Description
sterling silver, ivory, and 14k gold
Classifications
Object Number
1984.42
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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