The Drawers - Catherine Hahn  Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Catherine Hahnís jewelry is made to be worn by grand personages - powerful women, emperors, pharaohs or pundits, officers of high rank or exceedingly beautiful kept women. Her jewelry transcends the mere decorative and falls in line with the objects in royal treasuries such as The Dresden Collection, Jewels of Buckingham Palace, Tibetan Artifacts or The Treasures of Catherine the Great. Just as these world renowned collections were born from grandiose settings, so is Hahnís work for she is best known for her set and costume design - from the gigantic puppets that she created for three world fairs to the many years that she has worked with the nationally recognized Caravan Stage Company and Farm Theatre. She has designed countless productions for the stage, video and television ranging from Shakespeare and Brecht to the avant-garde, edgy, alternative, fringe.

Her jewelry creates character. Placed on the body of the intended to grant significance, the bearer becomes more than he or she was before donning the magnificent seal of rank. There are the associative roles - the royal, shamanistic or priestly associations.

There is the history of the specific component, the found object that carries the patina of previous life. This is especially poignant when Hahn uses messages that suggest significance but elude specificity. The words in Cracked not Broken are only revealed when the cover plate of a dangling bauble is slid to one side. Above the winged silver heart, set with a veined blood-red stone, there is a tiny hand waving from a silver cuff. The effect is theatrical. This theatricality with layered associations gives three dimensionality to the characterization. The character can be an exaggerated one, as in Slick as Sin, or magical, wielding a talisman, as in Deco Shrine, caricatured as in Be Prepared where a single giant teardrop drips from a silver flying heart or, borrowing from the moderns, a singular work of individuality - Deco Concoction.

Hahnís work is, like the great treasures, displayable, as effective on walls or in cabinets as on bodies.  They are loaded objects, precious items that carry an inherent allusion to the importance of possessions. They are as potent as spells and as awe-inspiring as reliquaries.

Copyright © 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers