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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.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Few Images


Here are some images of the installation and a few from the opening. I wish I had more pictures from the opening... I was pretty busy the whole night talking to people, which is of course wonderful, but it does mean there was no time for pictures. It was a such a great evening and when it was over I felt a little bit sad.

Thanks for everyone who came that night and for all the wonderful comments, questions and conversations!



 with Hervée Darmont, my dear friend and "Belgian sister"
she made a special trip for the exhibition




More images on Flickr.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Live Here Now…In Its Entirety

Since 1882, Since 1976

My solo exhibition, "I Live Here Now," opened on Friday. The opening reception was wonderful--there were lots of guests, I received many beautiful comments and had some very interesting conversations. The work looks wonderful in the space and the exhibition as a whole has a quiet, intimate feel in the gallery. I have published all of the images online on Facebookmy website and on Flickr for all of you to see now as well. I will continue to share details about the individual works and lots of process photos in the coming days.

Never Let Me Down

Departing Ship

We Walk on the Same Ground

I am With You, You are With Me

Alone/Together

Lost and Found

I Can Only Stay Away for So Long

Island of 14,264 Days

Thanks for reading.