Theater of the Sea

Sterling silver, copper, brass, fresh water pearls, sea bird bone, CZs, and alcohol ink

4 x 4 x 1 inches

Photographed by artist.
Video by MJ Martin

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The sea teems with life, most of it hidden beneath the waves, a living theater. This brooch showcases the hidden life of the sea, staged as it might be in a portable puppet theater production.  Just as actors perform stories in a theater, the sea creatures here live out their stories, directed by the wearer, in the Theater of the Sea.  It includes numerous removable wearable elements, and allows the user to “re-stage” the “theater”, moving pieces between multiple hangings.  This piece explores my love of the sea, of the theater, and of multifunctional objects.  It is informed both by years spent near the ocean, and by years helping backstage at theaters.


Beth Wicker was born and has lived most of her life in the Carolinas in the US. As a child, her family spent two weeks every summer at the beach, going on long walks, collecting sea shells and other sea life washed ashore, fishing, crabbing, and painting what they saw from their rental house. This love of the sea has continued, and for years Beth and her late husband owned an ocean front condo at Ocean Isle Beach in NC. In addition she has visited beaches quite literally around the world – in addition to beaches in both Carolinas she has visited beaches in Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Michigan, Wisconsin, Japan, and the UK.

Growing up in Chapel Hill, NC, Beth’s family was always immersed in cultural activities, an interest she continued in college, graduate school, and as an adult. She has both performed in theatrical productions, and spent extensive time working on sets and lighting behind the scenes. Beth makes a point of attending theatrical productions and visiting museums on her extensive travels, and has seen live theatrical and puppet performances in as varied places as London, New York, Tokyo, Charlotte, NC, Chapel Hill, NC, and Cheraw, SC.

In addition, Beth grew up tent camping for at least two weeks every year, guided by parents who were interested in the natural world, and who shared that interest with their children. The names of various plants, star formations, rocks, waterfalls, islands – all were considered important. The history of these things, and how they interacted with each other and with people was important also.

All of these varied interests have fed into Beth’s art throughout the years. From early recreation department painting classes where she was the only child through completing her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Beth has developed skills in a range of art media – painting, drawing, photography (both traditional darkroom and modern digital), metals, fiber arts, woodworking, ceramics and printmaking. Many of Beth’s works combine multiple media, or influences from multiple media.

Over the years Beth’s work has been included in multiple group exhibitions, as well as several solo exhibitions. Her work is in collections in the US and in the UK, including the State of South Carolina; Bank of America in Charlotte, NC; IBM and AT&T in Cincinnati, Ohio; and the McKissick Museums in Columbia, SC.

Beth has been on the SC Approved Artist Roster for over thirty years, and has given art residencies at schools and communities across SC, working with students from pre-K through Senior Citizens.

She has had her own studio, Three Cats and a Dog, for over thirty years; has owned a gallery; was Executive Director of the Cheraw Arts Commission; curated the Online International Jewelry Exhibition for Ganoksin, the world’s largest internet site for jewelers, for several years; and is currently an Adjunct Art Instructor at Northeastern Technical College in Cheraw, SC.