Masha Archer (aka Maria Muchin-Archer) was born in Kiev, Ukraine to Sophia and Mykola Muchin, both artists and teachers of painting and sculpture at the Kiev and Kharkov Art Institutes. After spending the post WWII years in Europe, they emigrated to the United States in 1949. Masha has resided in San Francisco since 1967 with her husband, photographer Charles Archer (who died in 1993), and her two daughters, Maya and Larissa.
Masha studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, majoring in painting and graphic design. Later she worked as a restorer at the Museo Nacional de México, Mexico City, and then went on to design clothing before devoting her talents to jewelry design, her most enduring and most lauded vocation. In 1995 Masha was named “Art-to-Wear Jewelry Designer, USA” by the New York Fashion Group in an event sponsored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 1997 Aeroflot and the Russian Consulate sponsored a series of one-artist shows in Kiev, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. Museums that have shown her work include Kiev’s own Pecherska Lavra, the Smithsonian in Washington DC, Arizona Fine Arts Museum in Tucson, the Hammer Museum and the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, and the Taos Museum of Fine Art in New Mexico. After the establishment of the Ukrainian embassy in Washington DC the embassy honored Masha sponsoring an exhibition of her designs presented at the Alla Rogers Gallery. This exhibit included a bronze casting made by her father entitled “Kichkass,” the monumental version of which remains in Ukraine. Masha’s designs have contributed to the theatre as well, such as Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater Festival production of “Antony and Cleopatra” in 1996, and the Opera Manhattan concert production of Massenet’s “Cleopatra” at Sarah Lawrence College and Alice Tully Hall. Her pieces were featured in both ‘Sex and the City’ movies, as well as ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’, and by fashion maven Iris Apfel in ‘Bill Cunningham: New York’. On television her jewelry has appeared on ‘Bones’, ‘Martha Stewart’s Living’, ‘Burn Notice’, and ‘Anderson Cooper Live’. Ukrainian filmmaker Gyorgy Vlasenko directed and produced a 28 minute documentary about Masha’s life, ‘The Ritual of the Eye’, which was broadcast on TV in 175 cities across Ukraine and Russia.
In the midst of all this, Masha has shown at the San Francisco Opera Shop for 25 years. In 2009 her daughter Larissa wrote and edited a book of photographs (also titled ‘The Ritual of the Eye’) chronicling her life and career in her many arts. She considers her jewelry designs to be the culmination of her artistic and cultural heritage.
Education and Early Work
She studied at Pratt Institute in New York City, majoring in painting and graphic design. Later she worked as a restorer and exhibitor at the Museo Nacional de Mexico, Mexico City, and designed jewelry and clothing in Tucson and San Francisco.
Honors and Special Recognition
- 1997: Sponsored by Aeroflot and Russian Consulate for a series of one-artist shows in Moscow, St Petersberg, and Kiev.
- 1997: Masha’s jewelry show was chosen to open the “Days of Russia Festival” in San Francisco (organized jointly by the Russian Consulate and the Serge Sorokko Gallery on the West Coast).
- 1995: Masha Archer was named “Art-to-Wear Jewelry Designer, USA” by the New York Fashion Group in an event sponsored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
- 1996: Provided 50 original necklaces to the Great Lakes Theater Festival (Cleveland, Ohio) for a modern-dress production of Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’
- 1997: Provided 10 original necklaces to the Opera Manhattan company (NY, NY) for a concert production of Massenet’s ‘Cleopatra’ at Sarah Lawrence College and Alice Tully Hall .
Clients and Collectors
• Barbara Walters • Laura Bush • Beyonce Knowles • Joan Collins • Placido Domingo • Mrs. Larry King • Susan Lucci • Elaine Wynn • HRH Princess Turki Bin Nasser • Gene Hackman • Jennifer Love Hewitt • Olga Borodina • Mrs. Norman Lear • Shawn Southwick-King and Larry King • (Raul Julia) • Gladys Knight • Iris Apfel • Samuel Ramey • Ivana Trump • Oprah Winfrey • Sex and the City: The Movie • Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart • Rita Moreno • Sylvia Chase • Mary Wilson (The Supremes) • Erin Brockovich • Colleen Zenk Pinter • Clint Eastwood • Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer • Cynthia Nixon • Baroness Ludmilla Von Trapp • Countess Natalia Kosinsky •