So, what is it for? Is it a Thneed (A-fine-something-that-all-people need)? Is it cutting edge or ancient in origin? Completely natural or made of glittering silicon? Who is it meant for and for whom is it inaccessible? It’s not strictly imagery, though it is inclusive of them, and it’s not strictly sculptural, because it has to have a function. I don’t think it’s 100% handmade, though a good portion of it is, therefore it must be united in concept first.
When it’s time to commit to a course of production, are you supposed to double-down on fabrication or philosophy first? I find them to be like the chicken and the egg, feeding endless cycles of speculation on which supersedes the other. I’m not really a jeweler, but a sculptor working in miniature, just like I am not really a sculptor, I’m just an illustrator who doesn’t like static imagery.
Sketches for rings with river stone cabochons.
I hope that some kind of wearable sculpture can engage more of the senses than visual art, and believe that it has the power to take on talismanic properties that speak to personal transformation. Growing up making dollhouse miniatures with my maternal grandmother, I again became fascinated by working in miniature while completing my thesis at Vesper in 2009. It wasn’t a great leap to start thinking about jewelry in terms of scale or materiality, but as a class of object, there turns out to be a world of difference.
Sculptural jewelry can become personal theater, a costume that provokes questions about the identity of the wearer. Who will I become once I put this gaudy thing on – to myself and to others? A sculpture that makes it’s home on the body has to exist in it’s own right, both on and off the host. It must be daring in form, but not a nuisance. A conversation starter, a proclamation of personhood that speaks to ancestral history, myth-making, and the projection of self into the future.
Sketches of goddess figures to be produced in MN native clay and wood-fired.
Wearable sculpture can also be a social force. It can embody pattern languages and hold symbolic information that others can recognize and respond to, just like tribal ornamentation the world over. What tribe do you hail from? Is there a negative form of this same recognition, whereby the wearer is cast out of a circle for displaying the identifiers of another tribe? Can I help make that happen in a controlled setting to alter viewpoints by a smidge?
In conclusion, you can’t eat it or sell it for money, so it must be a set of unifying ideas that everything else cascades down from – not a drawing, painting, sculpture, jewel, dish, paragraph or photo, though it includes all of those things. What am I?