About the Artist

Barbara Natoli Witt is a contemporary artist with the rare distinction of having created her own medium. Her unique necklaces blend tapestry techniques to form intriguing webs of colored threads, ancient beads, and gem stones which capture at their centers precious sculptured pieces, artifacts, and heirloom treasures.

In the course of her 45-year career she has introduced a new facet of jewelry arts, perpetuating the beauty of the ancient, the ethnic, and the exquisitely quaint within a framework of contemporary beauty and utility. Her work is included in many outstanding collections including the Smithsonian Institution, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, The Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Oakland Museum of California, Newark Museum, and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta.

An exhibition, organized by Kathleen Rowold, Ph.D., professor and curator of the Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection at Indiana University, included 35 contemporary necklaces into which had been incorporated art from the ancient old world. This exhibit was mounted at the Museo ItaloAmericano in San Francisco, California and was displayed from April 5th through July 8th, 2006. From there the exhibit traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina where it was redesigned by curator Billy McClain and displayed at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art October 28th, 2006 through January 7, 2007. In this presentation, the necklaces were selected to illustrate the work held in public and private collections in the South. Immediately following, an exhibition opened in San Antonio, Texas. This exhibit was designed by curator Nancy Fullerton to illustrate the symbols and art forms of some of the various cultures in the wide ranging permanent collections of the San Antonio Museum of Art. This exhibit was displayed from January 20th through March 18th, 2007 and was featured during the Mays Seminar on the Decorative Arts February 10th, 2007.

Regarding Ms. Witt's art form: She became fascinated by cross-disciplinary research into the origins of the art of adornment, while studying the ancient ethnic artifacts used in her work. Witt has found inspiration for her designs within a variety of cultures including the following: the Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Syro-Hittite, Coptic, and Mohenjo Daro of the ancient old world; the Ashanti, Berber, Tuareg, Ivorian and Congo cultures of Africa; the Turkman, Tibetan, Indian, Kundan, and Indonesian cultures of Asia; the Han, Ming, Chia Ching, Ch’ien Lung, and modern cultures of China; the Haida, Tlingit, Eskimo, Lakota Sioux, Navajo, and Zuni cultures native to North America; the Sinu, Tairona, Chimu, Olmec, Maya, Mixtec, and Michoacan pre-Columbian cultures of mezzo-America; and the Italian, French, Russian, and the Georgian-, Victorian-, Edwardian-English cultures of Europe.

The range of symbols illustrated in Witt's designs is impressive and demonstrates the universality of such images including the following: birds, butterflies, spiders, fish, frogs, snakes, trees, flowers, fruits, lions, deer, horses, sun, clouds, faces, masks, hands, and geometric patterns. She is drawn to the evolving, implicit meaning of symbols that are universally embraced and expressed in the material cultures around the world. More specifically, Witt is driven by a desire to explore the motives for adornment, the historical role of adornment within artistic expression, and the universal importance of the necklace in establishing female power, status, and spirituality. As an artist, Witt is dedicated to renewing an appreciation for aesthetics in our daily lives by recycling and reintegrating the classical ideals of beauty, art, and symbols of the past into our modern sensibilities.

For further information and prices e-mail BarbaraWitt@NecklaceArt.com

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