“I believe in the beauty of all things common…I believe in the beauty of all things broken.”
Terry Tempest Williams, author of Finding Beauty in a Broken World
Terry Tempest Williams, an author, naturalist, and environmental activist, spoke these words in a radio interview I listened to last night. They hit me like lightning. She articulated my attraction to a type of jewelry that brings me great pleasure. Jewelry that embraces the aesthetics of imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness. Jewelry that is truthful to the transience of humanity and comfortable with the certainty of change, contradiction, and chaos.
For me, each piece and artist statement in this collection further illuminates Terry Tempest Williams’ words and reflects the beauty of what is common and what is broken.
“Making jewelry, I play out the tensions and beautiful collisions of my practice in a small complex space. I am happy to think that these little things then find their way back out into the world and into people’s daily lives. I like the idea that they, too, will become worn, and at some point perhaps even discarded, returning to be crunched again through the great geological and chemical machines of the universe, in an act of infinite transformation. These objects are romantic, but also explorative and direct; collisions of elements from the chaos and order of lived experience.”
“My jewelry deals with the tension that lies between attraction and repulsion. I take seemingly inappropriate materials, making ordinary and familiar objects seem extraordinary and unfamiliar. In the 18th century, many new breeds of animals and plants were discovered and it was the main era of cabinets of curiosities. People collected rarities because it gave them the feeling of being in the presence of something extraordinary and marvelous. In a world where not many new and exotic breeds are discovered, I use dead creatures in my pieces to evoke wonder. The creatures are transformed and reborn; given a new life as objects of astonishment.”
“The themes in my work revolve around several sub-themes. In the past these have involved time, natural history, nature, irony, contradiction, and the escape from reality into a world where anything can be what it wants to be and nothing has to conform to society’s rigid rules and regulations. More recently, I have been exploring the invisible energy within second hand objects, natural phenomena, such as ghosts, and the meaning and purpose of myself as a human being. What has surfaced through this exploration is a deeper understanding of the world, a raw layer of reality, which is carefully hidden beneath the surface, invisible to the naked eye. What we see is surely not what we get. Quite on the contrary, what we see is only an illusion and my work attempts to question and taunt these, exposing the fleshy reality beneath.”
Starting with a cardboard box, (Shari Pierce) plays upon the different ways that an empty vessel, ultimately made to be disposed when its purpose is served, can signify. As Pierce notes, we see these boxes discarded in heaps at the supermarket; but equally, they can be ‘temporary houses for our most important memories and possessions,’ and in the hands of a child, become a vehicle for imagination with ‘limitless uses’—a fort, a castle, a car. In this way then, this humble material is layered with meaning, in just the way that the material itself is constructed of layers of paper that can be ‘constructed and reconstructed multiple times.’
“I am interested in perceived notions of wealth and beauty. When I moved to Detroit after living abroad for three years, I was struck by the contradicting landscape created by the city’s affluent and impoverished neighborhoods. Drawing from this landscape and the socioeconomic conditions it exhibits, my recent work presents deteriorated architectural forms as objects of adornment. As a series of brooches, they reference jewelry’s historical representation of wealth, while their forms capture degraded fragments of local architecture. Folds and cuts in iron surfaces invite peering into their voids, where delicate patterns set in colored enamel offset the dark metal façade. Reminiscent of wallpaper, the patterned interior surfaces speak of a careful care and consideration put into adorning ones own personal space. Voyeuristic glimpses inside the pieces reveal worn surfaces suggestive of domestic interiors. The care and consideration once present have fallen subject to external elements, leaving behind remnants of a pride in ownership and coveted past.”
“The colors of a cherished, familiar landscape, somewhere in the foothills of the Pyrenees leading to the Mediterranean Sea. A blue air one could bite; a yellow light one could touch. Blue and yellow: primary colors, homesick colors. The velvety touch of a slightly moist wooden spoon; the smell of a small leather pouch soaked by rancid wine; metal tools sprinkled with earth after working in the fields…Unusual sensations inspire new radical objects looking at the rural utensils of yesteryear. Silver that looks like leather, leather that looks like skin, the skin of a nest, the nest of oneself.”
Text by Monica Gaspar