Coral Bourgeois

Maxwell Library, 3rd. Floor
Fall 2024

Coral Bourgeois

In 1976, I moved to New York and quickly became part of the downtown and early Dumbo art scenes. I had plenty of space to work in my loft, and exhibited drawings and paintings in group and solo shows. Then I took a detour that ultimately led me to the process that underlies my current work.

I got into jewelry in the early 80s, when lots of artists were making “art” jewelry. My first line, “International Symbols,” involved rubbing symbols onto bracelets, earrings, pins, and barrettes; hand-painting each symbol, rubbing a second symbol over it—imagine 40 multi-colored symbols per bracelet. I enlisted every artist I knew to produce my first order for all 26 Neiman Marcus stores.

As the 80s progressed I made jewelry reflecting all my favorite genres: Classical, Islamic, Renaissance, Pop, Landscape—anything and everything. I did trade shows, was featured in magazines, but I was never a fashion designer; I was an artist making jewelry. I did not want to change my line 7 times a year to follow fashion trends.

I thought, Why not take this process I’ve developed—images, paint, epoxy resin—and apply it to tile? This bigger, more forgiving surface leant itself to murals, brought me back to my art origins and gave me an entirely new audience: architects and interior designers.