You Are (the) Here (2)

This summer and fall I am visiting four cities that are home to exceptional collections of decorative arts. While I play the part of tourist, visiting historic sites and buying souvenirs, I develop a relationship with each new and hereto unfamiliar city. The urban passages that are particular to my time in each city render aspects more familiar and, over the course of a week, personal landmarks develop. Not the monuments of postcards and keychains but familiar elements that become signifiers of place in a practical and meaningful way. I will then design a means by which the chosen feature might be assimilated to my body as ornament. I will photograph, sketch and create models of the element that will then be transformed, upon return to my studio, through the highly skilled fabrication techniques of silversmithing.

I will be visiting the following historical masterpieces and collections of metalsmtihing:

  1. Rene Lalique and Limoges enamels (among others) at the Decorative Arts Museum, and Louvre in Paris, France
  2. Benvenuto Cellini's Saliera and other treasures of the Kunsthistorisches Museumm Vienna, Austria
  3. Johan Melchior Dinglinger's Royal Household of the Grand Mogul and other masterpieces at the Historical Green Vault and New Green Vault in Dresden, Germany
  4. ?

You Are (the) Here

I am about to expand upon a new series of artworks that explore the cultural construction of identity through personal adornment. It will result in four wearable metal objects and related imagery and will be completed during my development leave this fall. This series, You Are (the) Here, is inspired by the historic relationship between body adornment, the idealized self and the souvenir that has been indicated by such things as pilgrimage badges of the middle ages, neoclassical dress in the court of Napoleon Bonaparte and nineteenth century micro-mosaic jewelry. Jewelry as a format of expression is inherently defined in relationship to human scale and therefore to the human experience. In this multivalent program of research, manmade public elements that have become particular and familiar through repeated contact are used as personalized signifiers of place. These are rendered in miniature in painstaking detail and precious materials to become body adornment that may be used by the wearer to take on the constructed identities of these personal/public spaces. 

It all began with a gas meter.

I pass this every day that I take my daughter to or retrieve her from daycare. Located behind an industrial building, the wall behind is an easy and frequently used target for spray painters. Each time the wall receives these unauthorized markings, the city is contacted and a crew paints over the newest batch. Apparently the city of Fort Worth has a handful of different “neutral” shades that they use to cover up these markings and the paints used have not remained consistent to the site. The result is a warehouse-size color field painting in neutral tones. This serves as the backdrop for the now-familiar gas meter. Most weekdays I pass, noticing the changes to the wall, admiring the effect and how it seems to stage the gas meter and make it special.This went on for some time before it hit me: the gas meter wants to be a bracelet. And I want to wear it. 

To be continued...