Liz Swig’s collaborations with artists explore cultural issues and ideas, blurring the boundaries between jewellery and art. Artists including Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Laurie Simmons and Rashid Johnson have celebrated working in a new medium by creating pieces for jewellery brand Lizworks, creating intimate new connections with their audience.

Now, Swig has collaborated with American artist Robert Longo for a jewellery collection reflecting on the state of the nation with two pieces, a rose and a bullet hole, both available in limited editions of 15.

A rose necklace made from shell
Photography: Matthew Sgambati

Viewed together, the pieces juxtapose contradictory themes, destruction and regeneration going hand in hand. ‘What drew me to explore both these images individually and together was the relationship that I saw in the ideas of strength, fragility, beauty, life and death,’ says Swig. ‘The strength and fragility of both the images and the medium from which they’re being created adds another interesting layer of dynamism. Both the rose and the bullet are equally as beautiful and strong as one another yet in two completely different and compelling ways.’

The rose, blooming on a ring or dangling from a pendant, draws its velvety folds in sardonyx shell – dotted with tourmalines and framed in rose gold, it encompasses vibrant tactility. The bullet hole ring and pendant cuts a darker silhouette, drawing its angular lines in enamel, jet stone and yellow gold.

The jewellery pieces build on Longo’s large-scale charcoal drawings of emotive images, conveying the intimacy of sharing ideas in a new way. ‘The contexts of these two images differ greatly. My rose series (2003–2013) was part of a group of large-scale charcoal drawings I called ‘The Essentials’, representative of Genesis, the creation of the universe populated by images of our collective unconscious. The image of a blooming rose presents a living thing in a state of becoming,’ he explains. Conversely, the bullet hole looks at the aftermath and the destruction left behind. ‘The bullet hole image represented in this collaboration is based on my large-scale charcoal drawing Untitled (Bullet Hole in Window, January 7, 2015) (2015–2016). The piece is a statement on rampant gun violence. It was essential to acknowledge this topic, rather than to dispose of it, to scroll past it,’ Longo adds.

Together, the images are poignant, leading to a natural conclusion. ‘Both pieces are potent,’ says Swig. ‘Robert’s work has always been captivating and compelling. The enormity and the intimacy that he creates is what drew me to wanting to explore his work in the world of jewellery and wearable art. His vision has made room for a new dimension to his powerful work.’ §
 

Black necklace with black and white bullet hole on the pendant
Photography: Matthew Sgambati