Marisa Lombardo Repurposes Antiques for The Artemisian

artemisia post-69-2Photo credit: Denise Guerin
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With an interest in metals and sculpture, Marisa Lombardo decided to enroll in Tyler’s jewelry program.

“The demands and size of that kind of work were high,” Lombardo said. “So I wanted to take that knowledge and put it towards jewelry.”

During her first year in the jewelry program, Lombardo took a printmaking class.

“I had a really difficult time with jewelry, but loved the printmaking department,” Lombardo said.

aquamarine(Preview of The Artemisian’s Fall 2014 Collection)

She decided that her aesthetic worked better in 2-D and made the immediate decision to switch her major. With a degree in printmaking, she used her background with metal to make a name for herself in the art world.

“I did a lot of performance pieces and had shows at galleries,” Lombardo said. “It wasn’t until I got married and had my first child that jewelry came back into my life.”

While she was on bed rest, her grandparents sent her a box of vintage costume jewelry from their high end clothing store in Buffalo. They encouraged her to use it to start making jewelry again.

“I made this collection and it wasn’t a collection that I wanted to put in a gallery because I wanted it in a high end store in Philadelphia,” Lombardo said.

The first store to carry her jewelry was Joan Shepp in Philadelphia. Soon after, Anthropologie found her work and took the pieces worldwide.

DSC_0076 copy(Preview of The Artemisian’s Fall 2014 Collection)

Lombardo named her jewelry line, The Artemisian, after the Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi.

“She was the Frida Kahlo of the Renaissance,” Lombardo said.

Gentileschi’s father was a painter and a professor. Lombardo explains that during this time men were not allowed to paint from the female nude, so the men in her father’s studio had to paint from the male nude and then add larger breasts to them later.

“Women weren’t allowed to paint from the men at all,” Lombardo said. “Artemisia’s father would sneak her into his studio and let her paint the men.”

The paintings Judith Slaying Holofernes and The Birth of St. John The Baptist were very influential for Lombardo.

“At the time, there wasn’t that kind of physical emotion in painting,” Lombardo said. “She had this passion for what she was doing and nothing could hold her back.

Although Gentileschi was the inspiration for naming her line, Lombardo does not draw inspiration from other artists. Instead, she is inspired by films, music, and architecture from her travels.

freccia fairy dust whole (1 of 1)-2(Preview of The Artemisian’s Fall 2014 Collection)

“Every collection has been inspired by a movie, soundtrack, or music that I’m listening to at the time,” Lombardo said. “The current collection was inspired by Florence and the Machine, The Great Gatsby, and Mad Max.”

The main philosophy behind The Artemisian is to not be a part of the supply and demand system.

“Not being a part of this sort of disposable culture is really important to me,” Lombardo said. “It’s not about making a million dollars, it’s about saying something about the past. It’s exciting and I love it.”

freccia fairy dust whole (1 of 1)-10(Preview of The Artemisian’s Fall 2014 Collection)

To maintain this philosophy, most of the jewelry Lombardo uses is found from antique dealers in Philadelphia, Paris and Rome.

“I’m very interested in men’s jewelry from the 1800’s and 1900’s,” Lombardo said. “It was a way for men to individuate themselves. That fascinates me, and then I take it and make it for women. It has this androgynous feel.”

Lombardo hopes that her work in jewelry, as well as in women’s and children’s fashion, can continue to bridge the gap between fashion and the fine art world.

“I love the way that that’s working at this time, so I can see myself getting more into a niche market, finding these beautiful pieces from the past that have been left in an antique store to collect dust, then taking them and repurposing them,” Lombardo said.

spin darling (1 of 1)(Preview of The Artemisian’s Fall 2014 Collection)

To learn more about Marisa Lombardo and her work, visit her blog Artemisia to the Artemisian.

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