It takes a distinctive aesthetic, passion, and discipline to collect rare and beautiful objects. It takes a profoundly generous spirit to then pass that collection on so that more people can enjoy them. Mona Lee Nesseth, a Graduate Gemologist, custom jewelry designer, and antique and estate jewelry expert, made a truly graceful gift when she bestowed her exquisite collection of hand fans to the FIDM Museum & Galleries, which are now showcased in the current exhibition, A Graceful Gift: Fans From The Mona Lee Nesseth Collection. The exhibition is open for one more month - make sure you catch it before it closes on July 2!
Elizabeth Hinckley, editor of the FIDM Museum Newsletter, recently sat down with Mona to learn about her journey from enthusiast to collector, and the fan that started it all...
How did your fan obsession begin?
I have always been mesmerized by hand-held fans, both antique and contemporary. I am inspired by their beauty, their flirtatious function, and the enchanting stories that they can conjure.
Hand-painted parchment, gilt brass, turquoise & mother-of-pearl
What is it about this particular accessory that has smitten you?
I admire the refined combination of master artistry, history, fashion and function. Throughout history, fans have been utilitarian symbols of status, romance and sentimental tokens commemorating momentous personal and historical occasions, including weddings, mourning, and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
I am enchanted by fans depicting mythical tales. I am captivated by fans that celebrate the mundane and by fans that are evocative romantic displays of everyday life, fantasy, even controversy. I am charmed by fans creating delicate patterns with lace. I am bedazzled by fans that sparkle with glistening spangles and gems. I am mystified by the intricate hand-crafted labyrinthine carvings and engravings found on the sticks and guards of the fans.