Visiting artist Andy Cooperman designs jewelry that is meant to be more than mere accessory.

His current exhibition, entitled “Disparate Elements,” will be displayed from Jan. 29 to Feb. 19 in Hershberger Gallery.  His focus as an “academic jeweler” and metalsmith is to look at jewelry not only as a functional embellishment, but also as a concept.

“What I do as a maker is to create something thoughtful and dynamic that also brings together things that might not necessarily go together,” said Cooperman. “Pieces which aren’t necessarily greater than the sum of the constituent.”

A practicing metalsmith for over 30 years, Cooperman designs intricate three-dimensional masterpieces at a scale small enough to slide easily on the width of a finger.  Though not all of the showcased pieces are fit for everyday use, Cooperman takes pains to make sure that many of the pieces can be donned. Of course, that is only if the wearer has confidence enough to be noticed.

“When you put them on,” said Cooperman about his set of “porcupine” rings, “you better be prepared to answer some questions.”

Cooperman’s jewelry is undoubtedly eye-catching. Each piece in the “Disparate Elements” collection holds more in it than meets the eye. Some of Cooperman’s favorite materials include misshapen ping-pong balls, winding metal and worn copper. In certain pieces, Cooperman uses tiny, colored magnifying glasses. Inside the glass, he implants mysterious bits of symbolism for the viewer to discover for themselves.  The significance of those bits are left up to interpretation, although many are meant to project universal messages.

“I want people to bring whatever they have to a piece and to respond viscerally to it,” said Cooperman.

Students and community members will be given a chance to respond to Cooperman’s pieces with the artist himself when he visits Goshen College campus for a lecture entitled “Transitions: Jewelry, Objects, and a Little Ping-Pong” on Feb. 12. The lecture will begin at 4 p.m. in the Administration Building, Room 28. A reception with the artist will immediately follow in Hershberger Gallery. On Feb. 13, art students are invited to attend a seminar and technical demonstration with Cooperman.

The exhibit is free and open to the public until Feb. 19 with visiting hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.