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MEET THE ARTIST : Amelia Toelke

Current solo spotlight artist AMELIA TOELKE strongly believes that jewelry can and should bring joy. This is apparent in her diverse art practice that draws on training in jewelry and metalsmithing, and includes representations of traditional and recognizable jewelry forms and concepts.

Amelia’s most recent group of work is a limited edition series of pins and earrings depicting the twelve zodiac constellations and other celestial bodies. Learn more about the project below.

Seeing Stars. Installation view, 48 x 48 inches

For as long as humans have been wandering the earth they have been looking up to the sky for answers. The term zodiac derives from Latin zōdiacus, which in turn comes from a Greek phrase meaning “circle of animals”. From the earliest of times, the zodiac has been universally used to predict or reflect characteristics of personality, whether from the Chinese, Mesopotamian, Indus Valley, Egyptian or any other culture, echoing the ancient philosophy ‘As above – so below’. 

These clusters of bright stars help us make sense of a world and cosmos that is vast and incomprehensible. Most often representing animals, mythological beings or gods, constellations have been used throughout time to tell stories of creation and belief, and to help us physically navigate across the globe. Astrology, in its broadest sense, is the search for purpose in the heavens.

Charm bracelets function similarly. As we collect charms that symbolize experiences or rites of passage, the charm bracelet stands in as a personal timeline—again, helping us make sense of something as abstract and esoteric as the meaning of life.

Amelia’s Seeing Stars plays with the format of charm bracelets to make wearable versions of constellations. These miniature maps of the universe are like personal compasses that connect us to the past and orientate us in the present.

A graduate of SUNY New Paltz’s bachelors’ program in Jewelry and Metals and with an MFA from University of Wisconsin at Madison, Amelia Toelke was selected as an artist in residence at Lanzhou City University in Lanzhou, China in 2015. She has been an artist-in-residence at  the Brush Creek Center for the Arts in Saratoga, Wyoming, participated in the  international exhibition and art symposium in Tbilisi, Georgia, and most recently hosted a workshop at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Amelia is currently working on a book of drawings and writings incorporating the world-renowned jewelry collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and a collaborative project focused on the use of jewelry and adornment as a tool for action and protest.