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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Some Thoughtful Press

Gothenburg Post

"I Live Here Now" has gotten some nice press in Sweden. A few days before the opening I spoke with Boel Ulfsdotter from the Gothenburg Post and later, Henriette Ousbäck, wrote about the exhibition on her blog, Fiber Tiger. I am excited and grateful for both pieces! Here is a translation of the Fiber Tiger post:



"Last Saturday, after reading a teaser about Amy Tavern’s show in the paper, I thought it was time to finally find my way to Four.

The gallery is the only gallery in Gothenburg specializing in jewellery, after Hnoss at Konstepidemin closed the physical gallery. The gallery is run by four jewellery artists with Karin Roy Andersson as a committed force. Behind the gallery space you find the artists' workshops; I guess this is the only possible solution to be able to realize the idea of a gallery, to combine their own studio work with a functioning gallery.

I was very curious about this particular exhibitor because she has integrated textile in her jewellery art, in her own subtle way.

Textile jewellery or textile integrated with the metal in various shapes can be made in many different ways. Karin Ferner, whom I've written about before, is playing with the folkloric in her jewellery. She uses her inheritance from Dalarna and makes playful and imaginative jewelry.

Amy Tavern’s jewellery is something else. Her pieces are memories, processed memories, reconstructed experiences. She tries to show abstract thoughts as something concrete and tangible, something physical.

It is materialized memories, memories reshaped, reconstructed, but nonetheless true. In the encounter with the viewer chains of thoughts, which leads on, to own recollections are created.

Amy Tavern’s show does not present conventional jewellery; it is something as unique as a concept confirmation, where the jewellery is included as magical and ritual objects in a larger whole.

This is Amy Tavern’s first exhibition in Sweden. The title “I Live Here Now” sets the tone. Amy Tavern has long been without a so-called permanent home in a particular place. Out of necessity or from a free choice, she moved around, lived here, now there, travelled to other countries.

This has led her to ask questions. What is a home? Where do you feel at home?

Universal, fundamental issues, although Amy Tavern’s exhibition is based on her private life and her own experiences, the issues are current in a time of population migration and exile. Young people forced from their homes and their countries to find a livelihood. War and misery, persecution and intolerance means that millions of people have to seek new homes.

Amy Tavern investigates the concept of home from three different perspectives: her upbringing and childhood in the U.S., a stay in Iceland and in the fact that one can find home and feel at home wherever they happen to find themselves.

By entering into these issues, Amy Tavern is also approaching her own private life. By reflecting on all the places she lived in and the people she met, she finds her own way, including her artistic work.

To move, to tear up her residence again and again, to wander around, to live a nomadic life makes one sooner or later to someone who finds their domicile inside home.

Amy Tavern builds with great tenderness and poetry worlds of memory where the mundane and the unique form bearing element and starting points.

The exhibition is a sheer and stationary installation. She uses jewellery, objects, photography, arrangements; her search for home embraces much larger meanings, life and death.

Silently (I Saw a Robin Today) consists of the mother's wedding dress. After receiving it, it took some time before she dared to work on it and convert it. She began by very carefully ripping it up into parts. Everything was saved: buttons, zippers, hooks, eyes, ribbon, lace. Every little thread was recovered.

A ritual act, which raised questions that led to important conversations with the mother. Finally Amy Tavern understood, it was the process itself, deconstruction, not the final product, which was the real piece.

As an archaeologist she uncovers her memories of childhood.

The pictures below are borrowed from Amy Tavern’s very fine blog, where she very accurately describes her approach and her thoughts on her work. I really recommend that you go to the following link and take a look. Another piece was made of the dress lining. It is a big necklace. She cut all the pattern pieces into narrow strips, which she shaped and tied together, a nest of silk fabric and knots. She completed it with four gold bows, an allusion to ancient Greek tiaras and headbands.

A couple of other works were about Amy Tavern’s dad.

In the piece, “Forget Me Not,” Victorian mourning jewellery has inspired her.

In “Departing Ship” the starting point is a beautiful button from her father's uniform jacket from the fleet. A button that carries a load of memories has become gorgeous, minimalist brooches.

Inside the small medallion of silver is a picture of Amy Tavern’s father. There's also a bit of his hair. The hair is blurring the image, a father moving away into Alzheimer's disease fog.

Another jewellery piece: brass, address book, pen, compass, key: Wayfinder.

This is about a mapping, all the places Amy Tavern lived in: in eleven different cities in 25 different apartments and houses.

At the top is a map that combines all these locations. First Amy Tavern photocopied all the states, cut them apart and combined them making a fictitious new state. All localities are marked by tiny punctures, and her movements from place to place are symbolized by incised lines.

From this map hangs a pencil, an address book and the key to Amy's parents’ house, which until now never left her key bundle.

In the address book, she has listed all her old addresses under “T”, each with different pens.

An incredibly personal work, who more than she can wear this jewellery? It's like wearing all her life near the heart. But - the pen, the book: there is space for your own notes, a life of your own to contribute. This will make the piece universal.

On the wall is also a series of textile jewellery: Alone/Together, made of Icelandic sweaters, cotton, linen, wool thread. Necklace - Scarf, both/and.

Amy Tavern has embroidered and sewn the pieces. She mentions in her blog, that she appreciates it because it gives her a meditative awareness, the idea of hands that know themselves, what they should do.

Amy Tavern’s exhibition is cross-border and simultaneously self-evident. In contemporary art there are often no longer the sharp boundary between technology and materials. Not when it's at its best. Young artists make use of what you need, integrate, join, borrow from each other.

Amy Tavern’s blog is this quote by musician Brian Eno: "Stop thinking of artwork as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences”. I understand that Amy Tavern picked up these words. It was actually really well said.

The exhibition continues until May 3 Gallery Four, at Nordhemsgatan 74th. A pearl worth discovering."

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Insight

I Can Only Stay Away for So Long


I've been working on my artist statement for "I Live Here Now" for weeks and just added it to my website the other day. I'm considering it a work-in-progress because it feels not quite there yet. I do want something I've written about the work to be out in the world, though, and I think finding the thing that it's missing will come with time. I may need to let it all settle in more and I'll make adjustments as they come.

Wayfinder, detail

I’ve been without a home by circumstance and by choice for several years. In 2012, I began traveling in the United States. and abroad for my work, rarely spending extended periods of time in any one location. This new lifestyle made me realize I don’t know where I want to live, and I find myself searching for this seemingly elusive place today. While I am content to be without a home, I long for that one place where I feel most myself, a place where I want to stay. In an effort to find what I’m looking for, I was compelled to define and redefine home through research, writing and object making, as well as examining my past, my present and my future.

Over the past year, I have explored ideas of home in three distinctive places. Arriving in Iceland for the first time, I felt attune with myself and with my surroundings in a way I had never felt before. The pieces I made in a two-month residency there illustrate feelings of belonging and of being found. In my childhood home in New York, I reflected on my relationships with my family as well as relationships with the other places I’ve lived in the United States. The foundation of my artistic sources and countless other details were revealed as I considered individual people and places. Further, through all the places I have traveled, I have become keenly aware of my ability to find home in the unknown. In all of these places, Iceland, the United States and countries abroad, I examined memories and focused on things that carry emotional weight. I also relied on the language of jewelry, looking to a variety of historical forms for guidance.

“I Live Here Now” represents what home means to me as well as the memories and emotions associated with the different places that are a part of my collective home. Jewelry, objects, text, photographs, ritual, arrangements and installation serve to demonstrate my ideas and to establish a unique narrative. Ultimately, I know my home is the place where I am truly myself, and, essentially, I know now that I do not need a physical location to call home; my home is me and it is wherever I am.

Island of 14,264 Days, detail


Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Departing Ship


In addition to "Forget Me Not," I made a second piece about my father titled, "Departing Ship." This piece is based on a button from my dad's Navy pea coat and the popular image for Victorian mourning jewelry of a departing ship. When I was working on ideas for a piece about my father, I made a list of objects I associate with him that have some sort of personal significance to me: storage boxes he made for our camping supplies, his chef hats, his perfectly white Reebok sneakers. I asked my mom about all of the things on my list and nothing is left, except for one of the original buttons from his Navy pea coat. I wore this coat in college and somehow still have a button, even though the coat is long gone. At first I was very disappointed that nothing was left, but then I realized it was actually a good thing and truly appropriate given my father's illness. So I worked with the single button, toying with the idea of casting it, but then decided to really play up trying to replace it or recreate it by finding buttons that were almost the same. I made 68 pins for this arrangement/installation, my father's age now. Over time as pins are purchased, this number will diminish or disappear much like his memory, and eventually his life.


Normally, I would not bring up selling my work in a post like this, but the purchase of these pins is something I really want because it is the continuation of the piece. I want them to disappear… it adds to the meaning. If you are interested in having one for yourself, send me an email (atavern@gmail.com). They are $50 each.

More images on Flickr.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We Walk on the Same Ground (because) I am With You, You are With Me

We Walk on the Same Ground

In addition to my family, the house I grew up in and all the places I have lived as an adult, my ideas of home come from my friends and community. I am fortunate to have friends all over the place, and not just acquaintances, but very close, dear friends. I also have a network of artists around the US in jewelry, art and craft. "We Walk on the Same Ground" is about all of these people and reflects my feelings towards them and the memories I have of each person. I also wanted to show generosity because my friends are incredibly generous people and I feel a wonderful, balanced "give and take" between us. Through a multi-layered ritual, I collected dirt from 23 different friends and based the main form of the piece on the reliquary, a container for sacred objects. Later I added spoons to symbolize generosity and to create visual balance. Once the piece was complete, I made an accompanying necklace with a cluster of spoons. This piece is also a brooch and should be worn with the spoons pinned over the heart. 

I am With You, You are With Me

The ritual included participation from 23 different people from a number of cities, as well as my input both in the US and later in Sweden. Next week I'll get into the details of this process and show some images. 

detail of the reliquary

packages of dirt from 23 friends

Please visit my Flickr page to see some images of process. 

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Since 1882, Since 1976


When I was in the initial stages of developing the work for "I Live Here Now" one of the first pieces I knew I wanted to make was about the house I grew up in. My first thought was to use some of the original wood from the house, but when I looked for some, there really wasn't anything I could easily attain. My mom and I looked in the basement and the garage and I even thought about removing a board from a corner or something. Then one day my mom asked me to follow her into the basement and when we got down there, she pointed at the floor. There were bits of stone here and there and she told me they were from the foundation. She also wondered if maybe I could make something using them. I knew immediately this was the solution and was excited that my mom had so clearly been thinking about my work. I collected a bunch of pieces and designed a necklace reminiscent of a diamond choker or some sort of royal jewel. I made prong settings for each stone and then created matching earrings and a ring.




As I was working, I also thought about the presentation and became fixated on finding a blue velvet box. I searched online and found the perfect one on Etsy. It was a bit worn and stained and the word "Illusion" was stamped on the inside. It was even better than I ever imagined and when I got it and put the necklace inside, the piece became a truly complete thought. 




I've added lots of process photographs to Flickr including pictures of details around the house that I have loved since I was a child. The house was built in 1882 and we moved there as a family in 1976. My earliest memory is at this house…my mom was holding me and talking to my father outside. We were standing at the back corner in the yard. I must have been a year and half or maybe 2.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Never Let Me Down

pocket watch detail

Growing up, my brother and I were close. We fought occasionally as siblings do, but got along really well and had a lot of fun together. We remain close today and I still admire him as my "big brother." "Never Let Me Down" is about our relationship and the many moments when we looked to each other for advice or to simply commiserate. It's also about how I admire him and how he has influenced my life over the years.

Never Let Me Down

When we were teens, Mark carried a pocket watch. It set him apart from everyone else and I admired this, although I may not have realized it at the time. "Never Let Me Down" includes a pocket watch, cufflinks, tie tack and handkerchief and the papers underneath list the song titles from mix tapes he had as a teen. I used to sneak these out of his room when he wasn't around and it was those tapes that changed my perspective on music.

cuff links detail

In addition to the objects you see here, I also recreated the mix tapes, song for song. I was talking to Mark on the phone months ago about the tapes and he told me then he still had them. After we said goodbye, he sent me images of them via text messages. I hadn't seen the song titles since I was 16 and it was pretty incredible to read them again. It also felt like reading pages from a book or like reading a poem. I put together the mixes shortly after and then listened to them in their entirety back to back. It was even more mind-blowing to here the songs again! Later I listened to them while carefully writing each title in Cursive handwriting on practice paper. If you would like to listen to these mixes, you can find them here and here on Spotify

handkerchief detail

tie tack detail

I posted lots of process pictures on Flickr. I have also added images for "Silently (I Saw a Robin Today,"  "Wayfinder" and "Forget Me Not," pieces I have written about here already. Please take a look.

Thanks for reading.



Friday, April 11, 2014

The Piece That Didn't Happen


I came to Gothenburg planning to create one final piece for my exhibition, a piece for the "Outerland" part of the show. The plan was to walk and observe and then respond so I did what I always do: I settled into my room and began walking. I observed and took photos, paying close attention to what was catching my interest. I noticed patterns in the things I was attracted to and I made note of the new things that gave me pause. I did a little writing and a tiny bit of drawing. I even bought materials…but then I couldn't finish, or rather, I couldn't start. I didn't have enough time or energy.


I forgot how hard jet lag is on me. The first few days I was exhausted and I had a hard time focusing and making decisions. When I started to feel more "normal" it was time to prepare the exhibition, finish my artist statement and put the final touches on my lecture for HDK. I did try to work with my materials, writing and sketches, but nothing happened. In the end, I made the difficult choice to not make the piece. I think if I had arrived in Gothenburg well-rested I could have done it in such a short period of time, but exhaustion really got in my way.


All in all, this was a good learning experience for me. I tend to think I can do anything and I also tend to forget about being human. Next time I will factor in jet lag and perhaps have a more realistic expectation. I'm ok with not making the piece, although at first I was disappointed. Then I thought about the show as it was and it felt so good…and I knew it was ok to not make one more thing.


I added a few final pictures of Gothenburg to Facebook or you can visit Flickr to see the entire collection.

Thanks for reading.