by Marbeth Schon
It was a silky and subtly beautiful sterling silver bracelet with softly faceted links that first drew my attention to Agnes Seebass. I remember being surprised when I saw that it was made in Mexico --it didn't look like any Mexican jewelry I had previously seen. After some research, I discovered that Seebass and a few other exceptionally talented contemporary jewelers working in Mexico are part of a new aesthetic movement that I had not as yet explored.
Some of our readers may be familiar with Agnes
Seebass through the exhibit
de Plata, William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance."
Within the first chapter of the beautifully illustrated catalog for that exhibit in a section titled "Born out of an Illustrious Past," author Penny Morrill writes about some of the contemporary Mexican metalsmiths who embrace the traditions of the previous "Maestros de Plata." She includes Agnes Seebass along with Wolmer Castillo, Pedro Leites (Tane), Emilia Castillo, Teresa Camino, Jason Creagh, Violante Ulrich, and Ezequiel Tapia. Morrill says, "With their willingness to experiment and grow, these new artists are part of a contemporary transformation of the silver industry, in which Mexico will continue as the land of authentic silversmiths...offering superb works, for which the world will be grateful."1
Though Agnes Seebass is influenced by the styles and techniques of earlier Mexican silversmiths whose interpretations of pre-Columbian motifs define much of their work, she is a modernist whose designs only subtly reflect this influence.
Seebass was born in 1966 in Berlin, West Germany. She says that from the time she was a young child she "loved working with her hands"--she had a natural inclination for the arts.
In 1985, she studied architecture in the HHS-Architecture Bureau in Bremen and in 1986, went to France, to Touluse where she Studied Architecture and French at the Universite du Mirail.
Between 1987-1991 Seebass studied Jewelry Design and Techniques of Production at the Staatliche Zeichenakademie in Hanau, Germany and worked with Jewelry Designers Erich Hergert and Bremen and Monika Vesely in Munich.
Around this time, while in Frankfurt, where she was exposed to Mexican modern and folk art, she acquired a desire to learn more about Mexican culture and especially about the fabrication of metal in Taxco and in 1992, she had the good fortune to be awarded a scholarship from the institution Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft2 to study silversmithing at the Los Castillo workshop in Taxco.
Later, Seebass began creating her own pieces and opened her own workshop, first in Taxco and then in Cuernavaca where she presently works.
Seebass says that her jewelry designs were significantly enriched by the hollowware techniques she learned at Los Castillo. The large, forged sterling silver bracelet (below) is a result of this special training.
William Spratling's use of silver and wood inspired her salad spoons (below).
Hand woven choker with
Pendant with texture
Pendant with texture
Hollow constructed pendant
with pre-Columbian bead
Agnes Seebass in her studio
|1993||Exhibition of Jewelry at Design-Bureau, Mexico City.|
|1994||Lecture about modern Jewelry during the “week of design” at the University Ibero Americana, Mexico City|
|Sales of Jewelry in Boston, San Francisco, Portland and New York|
|1995||Design and Production of Jewelry for:|
|Plalacio de Hierro, Mexico City|
|Galeria Ziara , Mexico City|
|Michel Bucker, New York|
|1996||Design and Production for the German Jewelry Company Schmuck in Form, Essen|
|Exhibition of Jewelry at Plaza Loreto during the “German week”|
|1997||Daughter Manon is born|
|Exhibition at the Design Gallery Dimo, Mexico City.|
|1999||Individual show at Fort Mason, San Francisco, Ca.|
|2000||Individual show at the Gallery Entenaya, Plata, Mexico City|
|Daughter Vera is born.|
|2001||Sale of Jewelry at the Museum of Modern Art store in San Francisco,USA|
|2002||Form part of the Exhibition “Maestros de la plata, William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance”, Opening in San Antonio, Texas Oct. 2002. This exhibition will be shown in different museums (San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston, Delavare,…. Until October 2004.|
|Form part of the exhibition Tres diseńios en plata (3 silver designers), at the Museum of William Spratling in Taxco, Mexico|
|2004||Form part of the Exhibition
Maestros Mayores de la plata.
Opening Torre Mayor, Mexico City, May 2004 thru August 2004
Collective exhibition with Mexican painters at the Gallery Art&Art in Cuernavaca, Mexcio
|2006||May, Invited as Guest artist at the Studio tour “16 hands” in Virginia|
|2007||Feb., Participation at the group exhibit (6 silver artists from Mexico) “Continuity Amidst Challenge”, Smokebrush Gallery, Colorado Springs, Co., from Feb 1, through March 17|
|1997||“Harper’s Bazaar”, Mexico|
|Feb 1998||Zeit Form, Germany|
|Jul&Oct 1999||Origina, Mexico|
|2002||Catalog for the exhibition “William Spratling and the Mexican silver Renaissance” (page 68)|
|Feb.2007||Magazine “Elle” Mexico|
|March 2007||Magazine “inStyle”, Mexico|
|Museum stores that sell or have sold Agnes Seebass jewelry:|
of naatural histpry, New York, N.Y.
Craft and folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, Ca.
Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans, Luisana
The Mingei International Museum, San Diego, Ca.
The Saint Luis Art Museum, Saint Luis, Missouri
The San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio , Texas
Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, Ca.
1 William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance, Maestros de Plata, pg. 69.
2Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft e.V. (CDG) in Cologne, Germany, is a non-profit organization dedicated to international advanced training and human resource development. Together with partner organizations in Germany and abroad it forms an international network offering practice-oriented training, exchange and foreign language programs.
3Penny Morrill wrote this comment in a brochure about the exhibit "Maestros Mayores de la Plata”, 2004 Torre Mayor , Mexico City.