In the process of creating a new piece for her recycled fruit crate label series entitled The California Collection, San Mateo artist Harriete Estel Berman found herself drawn to a simply-designed 1930s Sunkist label.
Most historic fruit crate labels were typically embellished with images and illustrations that marketed their wares. But the Sunkist label just read “truth,” in a striking golden font.
“In a time when truth was a terribly powerful concept, I felt like it needed nothing else, so I put it away,” Berman says. “But three years later, after the election with 45 -- President Donald Trump -- we’re faced with this new reality which seems to get worse all the time.” She says the Trump administration’s cries of "fake news" and alternative facts have made her realize truth was not quite as absolute as she thought it once was.
For the past three decades, Berman has created recycled sculptures and jewelry imbued with critical commentary on everything from gun violence to the creation of identity within consumer society. Her California Collection jewelry series re-purposes fruit crate labels and tin cans to create accessories that reflect on California’s simultaneously consumerist and green culture. Her creative output includes circuit board bracelets inspired by Silicon Valley’s flourishing tech industry and recycled milk bottles transformed into delicately textured jewelry.