BEAD: The Latest Exhibit at the Greater Reston Arts Center

I’ve long admired jewelry artists who can create beautiful items with beads, but I’ve never known much about the use of beads in other forms of art. I’m not even sure I’d given it any thought before I heard about this exhibit. So I didn’t know what to expect when I headed to GRACE to see their newest exhibit, BEAD. It turned out to be a fascinating collection of art that uses beads in ways I wouldn’t have predicted. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.

BEAD is an exhibit that opened this week at the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE). GRACE is an art gallery at Reston Town Center that presents new exhibits every couple months, featuring the work of a broad variety of contemporary artists. Admission is free.

This exhibit includes two- and three- dimensional pieces that incorporate beads, often in surprising ways. Many of the featured items also include unexpected materials such as mop heads, animal skulls, and kitchen appliances. Here is a sneak peek at some of the artwork you can find in BEAD.

Artwork by Ingrid Bernhardt and Karin Birch at the BEAD exhibit at GRACE in Reston, Virginia

“Autumnal Flora” by Paulette Baron, and a detail from “Displacement Triptych” by Karin Birch

Paulette Baron’s “Autumnal Flora” is an example of her sculptural jewelry. It is named after the colors of fall, but I thought it resembled an intricate coral reef.

Karin Birch’s artwork combines beads, embroidery, and painting. Her work is a mixture of the precision of her beadwork and the spontaneity of her painting style.

Artwork by Joyce Scott at the BEAD exhibit at GRACE in Reston, Virginia

“He’s My Husband and He’s My Baby,” “Family Matters,” and “Insight” by Joyce J. Scott

Joyce J. Scott is renowned as one of the finest bead artists in the nation, and she is even referred to as the “Queen of Beadwork.” She creates sculptural pieces that address issues of gender, race, and class.

Artwork by Rebecca Starry at the BEAD exhibit at GRACE in Reston, Virginia

“Loaded” (necklace with live ammunition) and “Out of the Blue” (bracelet with razor blades) by Rebecca Starry

Rebecca Starry’s “Dangerous Goods” collection inserts live ammo and razor blades into jewelry designs. She creates an unsettling juxtaposition between those aggressive elements and the serenely beautiful beading.

Artwork by Sandra Wilcoxon at the BEAD exhibit at GRACE in Reston, Virginia

“Myanmar Fox” (fox skull) and other art pieces by Sandra Wilcoxon

In her “Embellished Bones” series, Sandra Wilcoxon presents a collection of animal skulls that she has adorned with beads to honor the spirit of each animal and highlight the beauty she finds in the skulls’ forms.

Artwork by Teresa Sullivan and Gail Gorlizt at the BEAD exhibit at GRACE in Reston, VA

“Battle of the Centaurianess” by Teresa Sullivan, and “Sea Foam” by Gail Gorlitzz

Teresa Sullivan’s work is playful, amusing, and irreverent. Be sure to check out her sculpture “Advice,” which shows the angel and devil that sit her shoulders.

Gail Gorlitzz presents a vividly colorful series of sculptures with an organic feel. They gave me the impression of lifelike and colorful sea creatures.

Artwork by David Chatt at the BEAD exhibit at GRACE in Reston, VA

“If She Knew You Were Coming…” by David Chatt

David Chatt displays two art pieces that honor the memory of his parents. “If She Knew You Were Coming…” represents his mother’s kitchen and his memories of her hospitality. Each item is covered in thousands of glass beads. You don’t want to miss his piece called “Love, Dad,” which incorporates 30 years of handwritten letters from his father.


These are only a small fraction of the remarkable items on display in BEAD. The exhibit includes the work of 17 artists from all over the country. Stop by and see it the next time you’re at Reston Town Center.

The Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) is open Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm. Admission is free.


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