In a world that yearns for novelty and encourages single use, Georgina Treviño sees the old and discarded as precious materials. Everything has value, according to the artist and jeweler: A tiny, rusted tin can transforms into a repurposed keychain; a row of vintage watches can be reworked into a wearable choker; a throwaway mechanical cockroach—inspired by the surprise guest who showed up on the Met Gala carpet this year—becomes a bedazzled figurine.
“All the things I see on the street can be jewelry: a piece of trash, a straw, a pen,” Treviño tells me over Zoom from her studio in San Diego. Behind her, a giant gold watch lurks on the wall over her shoulder, accompanied by a red bedazzled face mask she later reveals was featured in Bad Bunny’s latest cover story. “I’ll see random objects and my head imagines even crazier things [when it comes to] how I can use them.”
“How many more lives can I give this?” is a central question in Treviño’s practice, one that she examines at every stage of the process. “I’ll be making something and I’ll always think about how it can exist somewhere else—and also, how things can exist within it. I can grab a key and add piercings to it, so now, it’s more than just a key,” she says.
Wearing some of Treviño’s works may come with a warning, however—and an understanding that the one-of-a-kind item contains a layer of fragility. Such was the case when it came to the purse worn by Brazilian singer Luisa Sonza on the 2022 MTV Millennial Awards red carpet—an accessory that was previously a discarded can of tomatoes, and still had some of the fruit’s crushed remains inside of it. The possibility that “trash” could show up in awards show fashion is a real motivator for Treviño. “You can’t control the medium,” she says with a laugh of her creations. “But it’s also so beautiful to have a piece like that.”
Sonza is one of Treviño’s many A-list clients; Lady Gaga, Beyoncé—who wore a pair of custom earrings by Treviño for her recent Renaissance tour promotional video—and Camila Cabello have also been seen in the artist’s works.
Treviño was born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana. While attending San Diego State University, she had a short stint in a painting program—until a guest speaker in her class sparked her interest in jewelry. But soon afterward, she took a leave of absence from school. “Being a border artist is really difficult, because you don’t know where you’re from,” she says of splitting her time between Southern California and Central America. “You’re not from here, you’re not from there. So I went back to Mexico to find myself.” She’d returned to Mexico City in 2011, during a time when the city was experiencing a marked fashion renaissance. She found herself immersed in a growing contemporary art scene, rubbing elbows with influential Mexican designers like Victor Barragán and Sanchez Kane. “It was a beautiful time, because I grew up with these designers,” she recalls. “Even though I live in the U.S. now, I have this beautiful connection with them.”
While sustainability is central to Treviño’s work, accessibility is also a driving force for making her art—one that pushes her to continuously blur the lines between art and fashion by using conventional materials. You’ll often find the same words carved into a pair of Treviño’s earrings that you’d also see on display at one of her gallery shows. “I was taught in contemporary jewelry that it’s taboo to sell work,” she says. “I’m trying to challenge the idea that contemporary jewelry can’t be next to a sculpture or a painting.”
Treviño’s work is currently on display at the Winter Street Gallery in Edgartown, Massachusetts through July 16th and will be on display at Good Mother Gallery in Los Angeles as part of a group show July 1st-29th. Her first solo show is set to open in November in Puerto Rico at the Embajada Gallery. Her brooch ‘F**k the police’ was acquired by the Museum of Arts and Design of New York as part of its permanent collection.