Modern Hunter-Gatherer

St. Augustine jewelry artist Gabrielle Gould to be featured on PBS

Gabrielle Gould is a self-described “modern hunter-gatherer” who uses small wonders of the natural world to create jewelry art. Based in historic St. Augustine, Gould’s art form has caught the eye of the producer of PBS’s art and craft documentary series Craft in America. The show airs just once or twice a year, and typically features craft arts in conceptually themed episodes. The episode featuring Gould will be the first medium-specific one, shining the spotlight on jewelry. The episode will air on PBS stations on December 10. (For our area, check WJCT’s listings for airtime.) 

Gould says St. Augustine will be featured prominently in her Craft in America segment. This is not just because it’s where Gould lives and works, but because her environs are an integral part of her art. Gould searches the coquina beaches and wetlands of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas area, combing them for small treasures that she incorporates into her work. Shells, shark teeth, feathers, and even the flotsam washed ashore on the beach become elements in jewelry pieces that are, as she describes, “a figurative expression depicting my deep and abiding love of nature’s smallest wonders.”

“My jewelry is an interpretation of the wildlife surrounding my studio and home, along the coast of Northeast Florida,” says Gould. She combines these natural materials with fine gold, sterling silver, and silk thread, weaving it all together into wearable art that is both whimsical and rustic; Scandinavian-inspired aesthetics meet tribal adornment. Gould’s pieces tell a story; it is one of her present life, her environs, and her art and design background. She’s always been a gatherer. Growing up in Minnesota, Gould combed the shores of Lake Superior for agates and other stones. Her family wintered here in St. Augustine, drawn to the area for its European feel. Gould attended Flagler College and hasn’t left St. Augustine since. Her parents, an architect and a designer, opened Gabrielle’s Contemporary near Castillo de San Marcos and settled into the area as well, decades ago. 

It was at Flagler, while majoring in commercial and fine art, that Gould found her love of jewelry art. A jewelry design course with well-known St. Augustine sculptor Enzo Torcoletti introduced her to the medium that Gould says felt like “my expression.” “I am a maker,” she says.  “I loved that I could draw something and then make it into a miniature sculpture.” Making these miniature sculptures wearable and sellable to others was a natural progression for Gould, who states that “art is meant to be enjoyed.” 

A second push toward her personal aesthetic and artistic intentions came during her honeymoon to Brazil. “I was fascinated by the Amazonian peoples’ use of feathers, seeds, and reeds in their jewelry. It made me reconsider why we adorn ourselves, especially with things that are found near us.” Gould has long been attracted to birds as subjects for her work, and the incorporation of fallen feathers was a natural inclination. As she used more and more feathers and began traveling to art shows, other designers and clients offered her feathers to use, often from their own birds or nearby environs. These feathers from afar create a new narrative in her pieces that Gould enjoys. She cites the beads that are traded among African cultures for their jewelry as a related inspiration.

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Author: Arbus

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