Jewellery is made and worn in all African tribes. It is often made from available materials such as plant and animal materials like seeds, feathers, horn, shell, bone and leather. These materials themselves may be symbolic, such as ivory, which is highly prized as a sign of strength and hunting skill, or lion’s manes worn by the most powerful Masaai warriors. Other desirable materials have long been traded, bartered and imported into Africa, such as glass beads. Precious metals are used for jewellery in numerous tribes.
Most common are brass, copper and bronze, while much gold was mined and used in West Africa, for example by the Akan-speaking people like the Ashanti of Ghana. This wealthy society has based its economy and artistic heritage on gold since the early eighteenth century, and highly skilled goldsmiths and jewellers have produced superb jewellery and artefacts. The royal court of Ashanti still possesses and uses vast amounts of gold jewellery. The jewelry that we are spotlighting is from Brooklyn based artist Jimmy Shack. In remaking the Omo several oieces from collections were loan to show how one can use contemporary jewelry to create this African inspired look.

Jimmy Shack is a contemporary artist working in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate from the Ontario College of Art in Toronto in 1986 with a primary course of study in painting and printmaking. 

After moving to New York City in 1987, he continued his artistic development by exploring the field of ceramics through coursework at the Parsons School of Design, Greenwich House Pottery and Chelsea Ceramic Guild, all in New York City and in New Jersey at Peter’s Valley Craft Education Centre. 

In reflecting on his journey with clay, Shack finds symmetry with life and pottery.  “Clay becomes the vehicle for expressing your vision.  Through the process and rhythms of creating a pioece you find beauty in the clay which only becomes richer with the layering of color and glazes.  It is also the provocative way that a pot holds ad bound you in rapture of it’s emotional content and function.”

Shack has participated in group shows in his native Canada and in New York, including the Nexus Gallery, New York City; The Art Collaborative, New York City; The Brooklyn Artist Open Studio Show, Greenpoint; The Roots Underground Gallery, Toronto; Gallery 76, Toronto; and mdh fine arts, New York City. Special thanks to Wanda at Barking Lizards Gallery in Williamsburg who represents Mr. Shack and arrange for the inclusion of his collection.




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