Rebecca Schena
Jewelry and metal art objects




Maker, baker, and the proud, founding member of the Anal-Retentive Artists Guild.

A Silicon Valley native, Rebecca is a recent graduate of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where she earned her BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing with a concentration in Mind, Brain, and Behavior.

She is interested in jewelry as a method of initiating political discourse and as a way of expressing, manipulating, or distorting social identity. Her current studio work and research practice explore the relationship between light optics and social “optics.” She is also a contributor to Making Progress, her collaborative project with jeweler and educator Leslie Boyd.

Statement: Bad Optics

“Just remember if you can, power is a hologram”

In a symbolic sense, jewelry objects are optical devices capable of projecting and manipulating our socio-political image. Objects worn on our bodies provide us with the symbolic means to alter our perceived identities and to share political positions, values, and embodied experiences. They can broadcast social façades, expressing our inner identities to the exterior world with varying degrees of truth. They can conceal, sneaking insidious messages into halls of power to be revealed suddenly in protest. Jewelry is a form of social equipment that provides the wearer with agency: through the curation of one’s adorned appearance, one alters the relationship between their private, personal, public, and publicized self. Thus, body adornment is inherently a form of social engagement, situated directly inside channels of interpersonal communication rather than on the periphery.

The ability of jewelry to alter perception relies on its placement on the boundary between the internal and the external: the private or public self; the closed or opened locket; the lit or unlit holographic image; the moment invisible ink discloses its carefully kept message. Bad Optics is informed by the ways in which symbolic objects communicate the political values of their wearer and by the frequent interruption of this communication by manipulation and blatant dishonesty.

With secrecy comes power that can be mobilized for complicit deception or for justice. My pieces are guerrilla jewelry; made to be flipped around, cracked apart, peered into, and over-analyzed to reveal absurdist punchlines. Familiar symbols are debased and blown out of proportion, hidden messages are revealed under certain ideological and literal light, and seemingly blatant statements shift with one’s viewpoint. Through the creation of guerrilla jewelry and mock political-costuming, I aim to satirize the complicity of performative adornment in enforcing oppressive political structures as well as to leverage accessible adornment to break them down.