JEM Alumnae Unveil 'Triptych' Exhibit


(L-R) Jieun Oh, Rita Hsing and Xiaoxin Hu at the opening night of their exhibition, Triptych. Photo by Bob Toy.

Recent Academy of Art University School of Jewelry & Metal Arts (JEM) M.F.A. graduates Li-Yun (Rita) Hsing, Xiaoxin Hu and Jieun (Jeanne) Oh teamed up to showcase their thesis projects at the Academy of Art University Jefferson Street Gallery in a show aptly titled Triptych. This triple threat of jewelers and metal artists built an exhibition of around 30 pieces with both aesthetic appeal and a unique expression of struggles of women in modern society.

Hsing, who studied as a fine art sculptor, came to the Academy in 2014 and showcased the most dramatic pieces of the Triptych exhibition. Her pieces included a collection of female adornments for the legs, arms and pubic region with real human hair, brass and sterling silver that invites visitors to address the unfairness of arbitrary hygienic standards between men and women. 

Also on display from Hsing’s work was a collection of mechanical adornment pieces that showcased the pain and bodily harm that certain beauty processes cause to the female body, such as a brass glove that scrapes polish from the finger nails and a foot holster that scrapes calluses from pressure points.


Rita Hsing stands next to her work at the Triptych exhibition. Photo by Bob Toy.

“I dealt with a lot of feminist issues in college,” said Hsing. “I wanted to combine the concept of my body, women’s issues and my art. I thought that jewelry and body pieces can be worn to convey my concept.”

Hu also comes from a non-traditional background having studied economics at UC Davis before joining the JEM M.F.A. program at the Academy. Hu constructed many pieces using acrylic designed to look like lace to combine feminine beauty and strength under one single construct. Some of her more intriguing pieces included a clasp necklace that women can wear to carry essential oils and a multi-finger ring with an acrylic megaphone attached that will allow women to “speak out everything you want to say.” 

“I did what my family wanted by studying economics, I did graduate school for myself,” said Hu. “I always loved using my hands to make things. I wanted women to have confidence in female power. The lace pattern sort of filters every bad thing you don’t want to hear. It’s all about empowering women.”


Xiaoxin Hu stands next to her work at the Triptych exhibition. Photo by Bob Toy.

Oh came to America in 2010 just to study English, by which point she had already received an undergraduate degree in fashion. At the city college in Stockton, she took a few stray art classes which reinvigorated her passion for art. By chance, she stumbled upon the Academy’s JEM program.

 In her collection titled Window to the Soul, Oh employed a strong use of metals alongside strong themes of nature. The walnut wood or metal casts of plants featured in many pieces represented Oh’s inner self and punctured metal “panes” served as the “windows” or transparent vessels into that deeper self.

“My theme is about having a conversation with your inner thoughts and expressing them freely with the outside world,” said Oh. “I had a hard time saying how I feel or expressing my feelings. I realized that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wanted to let it out through my work.”


Jieun Oh stands next to her work at the Triptych exhibition. Photo by Bob Toy.

JEM Director Charlene Modena was present at the exhibition and worked closely with all three of the emerging artists. “These are unique expressions of a lot of issues that confront women,” said Modena. “They all are dealing with women’s issues from different vantage points. They are each different expressions, but the core issues are the same. It was an honor finding a way they could help express this issue in an individual way.”


Triptych will be on display at the Jefferson Street Gallery until Sunday, April 29.