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News Room

“Earl Pardon’s Portable Art” to Be Showcased at the High

January 12, 2015

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Exhibition will feature rarely seen jewelry and silverwares by the American modernist artist and designer 

ATLANTA, Jan. 12, 2015 – The High Museum of Art will present a rare display of more than 100 works by celebrated Southern-born American designer Earl Pardon from Feb. 7 through June 7, 2015.

“Earl Pardon’s ‘Portable Art’: Jewelry and Design” will feature 88 pieces of Pardon’s jewelry (which he referred to as his “portable works of art”) and a selection of his homeware designs, many of which have never been exhibited together. The wares include exceptional examples of production work Pardon created as the assistant director of design for Towle Silversmiths in the 1950s.

The jewelry in the exhibition dates from the 1950s to the early 1990s and includes many pieces that reflect Pardon’s signature style and inventive use of color, form, pattern and texture. The artist’s often abstract compositions employed the full range of colors available through enameling and incorporated various natural materials, including abalone shell, precious metals, gemstones, ivory and ebony. Pardon’s jewelry is known for its intimacy, often having elements in the design that can only be experienced by the wearer.

“The studio jewelry movement in America produced important designers, like Pardon, who expanded the notion of jewelry as wearable design after World War II. Pardon was recognized in his own time as an appreciator of the historical craft and technique of enameling. He incorporated a fresh, new approach and aesthetic into this traditional method of making,” said Sarah Schleuning, curator of decorative arts and design at the High. “Through this exhibition, we hope to bring his work to new audiences and showcase the breadth of his creativity.”

Several works in this exhibition have joined the Museum’s permanent collection as acquisitions and gifts from long-time Atlanta gallerists and High supporters Martha and Pat Connell. Scholars of Pardon’s work, the Connells amassed a collection that is among the most significant holdings of his jewelry designs in existence.

Key pieces in the exhibition will include:

  • The enameled “Revere” bowl with abstracted surface pattern (1955), which became Pardon’s signature collaboration with Towle Silversmiths
  • Very early jewelry pieces reflecting the modernist styles of the 1950s
  • Examples of Pardon’s later trademark “painted enamel” jewelry, showcasing a historical technique revived and perfected by the artist

About Earl Pardon
Acclaimed metalsmith and jewelry designer Earl Pardon (1926–1991) was a major contributor to the rise of American studio jewelry in the second half of the 20th century. Born in Memphis in 1926, Pardon served in World War II and then attended the Memphis Academy of Art for his undergraduate degree in painting and his initial training in metalsmithing. After graduating from the Academy in 1950, he joined the faculty of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he remained an influential art professor until his retirement in 1989. In the 1950s, Pardon began designing silver items for commercial firms such as Towle Silversmiths of Newburyport, Mass. He received his M.F.A. in painting from Syracuse University in 1959.

Exhibition Catalogue
“Earl Pardon’s ‘Portable Art’: Jewelry and Design” is accompanied by a catalogue made possible by a Craft Research Fund grant from The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design. The catalogue features an essay by curator Sarah Schleuning about Pardon’s craft and design process, as well as an essay by Berry Perkins detailing Pardon’s journey as a student and educator.

About the High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the Southeastern U.S. With more than 14,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk art and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. For more information about the High, visit

About The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Arts for Learning. Each year, these arts organizations play host to over 1.2 million patrons at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Midtown Atlanta location, one of the only arts centers in the U.S. to host both visual and performing arts on a single campus. Through its work with educators and schools, the Woodruff Arts Center serves over 300,000 students annually and is the largest arts educator in Georgia.

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Media contact:
Marci Tate
Manager of Public Relations