Read My Pins

You know me, I’m all about stories. But who would have thought lapel pins could say so much? Read My Pins is the traveling exhibit of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s collection of over 200 pins. The collection is currently on display at The Mint Museum of Craft & Design in uptown Charlotte, NC, and her pins say a lot.

Birds of State

Maybe you’ve heard the story of how she started sending messages with her lapel jewelry. Shortly after being called a snake in the Iraqi press, Ms. Albright was scheduled to meet with Saddam Hussein. On her shoulder was a beautiful snake wrapped around a twig. On a visit with Vladimir Putin she wore one that resembled the United States’ interceptor missiles. Both men noticed.

Hear no evil . . . monkey pins worn when the message of secrecy was important when speaking to the press

Sometimes the pins reflected a mood, like the angel she wore after the 1988 terrorist bombing of the U.S embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Or the dove worn while paying her respects to the victims of genocide in Rwanda.

Even without the diplomatic or historical significance, the pins are worth seeing. They include antiques from the late 1800’s to modern pieces. They were acquired from countries all around the world and those cultures are reflected in the pins. They are made from all kinds of materials, gems and even a piece of concrete from the Berlin Wall. Just about every animal, sea creature, bug, flower, fruit and vegetable is represented-at least once. There is one case with just spiders! The pins cover the spectrum from the serious and political to the whimsical-who knew Madeleine Albright was a fan of Star Trek?!

Outer Limits-including a sorcerer and a spaceship with 3 aliens

It’s the stories about the individual pieces, as well as the pins themselves, that gave me a sense of who Madeleine Albright is. I found both the pins and the woman fascinating.

An entry from ‘Brooching it Diplomatically-A Tribute to Madeleine Albright’ an exhibit of over 60 jewelry artists from around the world. The eyes are clocks, one so she can see the correct time looking down at it; the other so a person facing her could see the correct time.

The collection will be at The Mint Museum of Craft & Design until September 23. Ms. Albright was in Charlotte last month speaking and signing books . . . and of course buying pins in The Mint gift shop 🙂

Can’t make the exhibit in person? Her book, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewelry Box is available on-line.

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9 Responses to Read My Pins

  1. Claire A. Iannini says:

    Oh, Kim – you took us on your journey, sharing Ms. Albright’s journeys as well. Thank you for reminding me of this exhibit, which I hope to get to myself. How fascinating, and how interesting to learn about another art medium – who’d have thought that jewelry can speak without words! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Roxie says:

    Oh Kim, this is so fascinating! Who would’ve thought that pins left such a biographical trail? Great post, I should check out this exhibit, thanks!!!! 🙂

  3. Ev EQ says:

    Hi Kim, I’m so glad you got to see the exhibit too!! My friend and I decided to go home and take inventory of our own pins and I found my yellow “Smiley face” pin… from the ’70’s??? I thought it was also cool to note that the pins ranged in price from about $3.00, to of course, who knows what!!! So glad you enjoyed it, and hope to catch up soon!

    • Ev! So glad to hear from you-yes, hope to see you soon as well. Maybe the 100K Poets for Change on Sept. 29th? The Poets’ Reception for our ekphrastic poetry exhibit on Nov. 4th?

      There were so many aspects of the pins that I found interesting and price was one of them. Size was another. Some as small as a thumbnail and others have to be 4″ square or bigger. I’m not one to wear much jewelry, but I could get hooked on collecting pins pretty easily-there are so many unique ones out there. But that would also require clothes shopping, which I don’t enjoy lol

      Catch you soon!

  4. Pingback: 2012 CarolinaFest-Digging into the Politics, Getting out the Message | A Writer's Window

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