You Can Now Wear Rashid Johnson's "Anxious Men"
Signet rings, bracelets, and military tag necklaces are all part of his new collection with LIZWORKS.
Rashid Johnson's gold military tag created in collaboration with LIZWORKS.
The multi-disciplinary artist Rashid Johnson and the jewelry designer Liz Swig, whose label, LIZWORKS, is known for its collaboration with contemporary artists, make a formidable duo. This is evident in “Anxious Men,” LIZWORKS’s newest capsule jewelry collection created with Johnson. Named after a series of portraits made of black soap on wax, depicting abstract faces denoted by erratic white lines, they were first shown at The Drawing Center in 2015. In the context of Swig’s jewelry, Johnson’s destabilizing portraiture is miniaturized, transformed, and reimagined into pendants, cuffs, rings, and dog tags in gold and titanium with ruby details, all available in limited editions.
Seeing Johnson’s work scaled down to fit on a ring adds a hyper literal tangibility to this series of portraits. It also reflects the talent of Swig, highlighting her perfectionism and dedication to craft. Swig has previously created limited edition collections with artists like Cindy Sherman, and Catherine Opie among others. Her work here with Johnson feels equally natural, an ideal pairing.
This collection was conceived before COVID-19 and the acceleration of the protests following the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by the police, but it feels nonetheless vital and evocative of this current time and place. “A lot of the concerns that motivate this movement, the relationship people of color have with the police and structures of systemic racism, have always been present in my thinking and in my work,” says Johnson in his artist’s statement for the project. You can see how that urgency seamlessly translates into this collection. “There is a long history of artists using jewelry and wearables to explore and spread our ideas. And there is a rich history in the Black community and in my family of folks wearing one’s wealth,” says Johnson. Looking at both the intensity of Johnson’s art and the intricacy of Swig’s work makes this idea clear as day. Wearing art like this is a part of a long legacy of using jewelry as calling card, a point of pride and honoring oneself and one’s family.