Friday, February 28, 2014

Guest Star #133…Renee Zettle-Sterling

from the series "Objects of Mourning: Untidy"

I'm switching gears for today's GS post by revisiting jewelry with the work of Renee Zettle-Sterling. I've been talking with Renee about my work over the last few weeks, looking to her for insight because I admire her work, but specifically, because of its highly-personal content and Renee's use of sentimental, priceless, irreplaceable clothing. For my new work I have been using irreplaceable things, so speaking with Renee has been very helpful.

"Object of Mourning: Permanence #1"

Renee makes jewelry, objects, sculpture and installation. There is also a performative aspect to many of the works shown through narrative photographs. I'm interested in how she creates with different forms and materials and admire her ability to convey experiences and emotions. The work is labor intensive, too, and I imagine this is an important part of the process, adding even more depth and complexity.

"Object of Mourning: Recall #1"

I met Renee a few years ago at the ECU metals symposium. She was the key note speaker that weekend and I really enjoyed her lecture. She talked about objects expressing "universal content" and I think about that a lot still. The source of much of the content in her work is death and mourning. Her experiences are unique to her, but universal with all of us. I think her pieces serve as a way for her to understand and accept and further serve as a vehicle to communicate and connect with others. Her pieces are sensitive, beautiful and articulate.

a page from my sketchbook, notes taken during her lecture

from the series "Necklaces in Mourning"

from the series "Objects of Mourning: Untidy"

from the series "Mourning Brooches"

You can read this article about her use of death and mourning as inspiration. It's a good introduction to what she does. 

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Live Here Now, Part 7

I'm nearly done with the work…I finished the metalwork last night and today have a few details to execute involving some of the objects that complement the pieces. But, for most of the day, I will be sitting with the work, something I've been doing since my first solo show in 2011. I like having some time to just be with the work, to lay it out in front of me and look at it, think about it, sit with it. This "sitting" I do is a chance to see the completed body of work altogether before I ship it to my photographer or pack it up for the exhibition. I also do some writing which usually helps me to understand what I've just done. Writing is a great way for me to sort things out and, later, I can use the text in my artist statement. Sitting is also one of the ways I honor the end of the making process.

Tomorrow I will measure and photograph everything and then ship it off to Seattle to be photographed.

Hard to believe this part is almost over...

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Live Here Now, Part 6

A few weeks ago I woke up one Saturday morning and the moment my eyes opened I felt extreme doubt. It washed over me, confused my thinking and turned my stomach. This is not a new thing for me. It happens every time I make a new body of work for a big show, and at this point, I'm not surprised by it. However, I'm also never prepared for it. What happens in the following days is pretty much terrible for me. I become nearly paralyzed in the studio and it's hard to focus, to motivate and to move my hands. I have this strange feeling of no longer knowing what I'm doing. I don't know my ideas or my intentions. I look at the work and my plans and I question their validity, their strength. I cry a lot. I also can't eat and I don't sleep well. It feels awful. It's the worst.

I don't often talk about my struggles here and I don't know exactly why. It's not because I don't have them or because I don't want anyone to know. I think I like keeping things positive here as much as possible. But, after this last bout with doubt I realized I wanted to talk about it a little bit. Doubt, uncertainty and fear are all things I feel often and most of the time I'm able to keep them in a healthy place. I see them as these creatures that hang out behind me, all the time. They help to keep me grounded. They help keep the balance. However, there is this moment when I've been working really hard and pause ever so slightly, and they climb up my back and sit on my shoulders. Then they noisily stick around, indefinitely.

So what do I do to battle them? The first few days I tend to just feel so bad I can't do anything, or I do very little. Then survival kicks in and I realize the only way to get through it is to work. Work. No matter how hard it is to physically pick up a tool or how challenging it is to think about the next step in an idea, I must work. At first it's awkward and clunky, but slowly it gets easier, and slowly, those creatures quiet down. They don't go away, but they do get quiet. Then I find my rhythm again and I just keep going.

I had a great conversation with my brother about this and I said something like, "I just have to keep working. What else am I going to do?" To which he replied, "Like a shark." He said it in a way that made me laugh. Then he said, "You gotta keep swimming."

Well said, Mark.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Live Here Now, Part 5

Today…materials. I mentioned the other day that I'm using a variety of things in this new work, things not limited to jewelry or metals from materials to objects to arrangements to installation. Here are some of the materials and objects:

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Etsy Monday!

I completely forgot about Etsy Monday! But, it's not too late…I just added this new Two-Part Teardrop Necklace in light blue to the shop. And, you can order it in any color from my two palettes, Subdued or Bright. 


Thanks for reading.

I Live Here Now, Part 4

gold wreath from Greece

I'm in the final week of making work for my show…my deadline is Friday, the day I have to ship everything to my photographer. My personal deadline is Wednesday by the end of the day, whenever that is. I'm doing this because I like have time to just be with the work once it's done, to just sit with it in my studio and think about it. I think this is a very important part of the process. Then I'll spend Friday measuring everything and then packing it all up to send off to Seattle. This week I plan to post every day about the work in one way or another. For today, here are some of the images of historical jewelry I'm using as inspiration:

men's jewelry set, 1920s

Italian reliquaries

portrait miniature with braided hair


jet mourning jewelry

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Residency at Sím

A few weeks ago I got an email from the Sím Residency in Reykjavík that I had been waiting for, and hoping for…and I'm so happy to say I'll be there as a resident artist in April and May! While I'm there I will be taking time to think about my work and this new direction I want to go in. Reading, writing and drawing will be my priorities and I hope to dive deep into thought. I'm pretty thrilled to have this chance; the opportunity to devote time to my work in this way. Thinking time is a luxury, honestly, but so critical to the process. I'm also looking forward to having a different experience in Iceland, one in a city this time. I'm sure it will change my perspective in ways I cannot even imagine.

I am counting the days…

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Live Here Now, Part 3

A few pictures of process...I will explain all of this later. I promise.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Live Here Now, Part 2

I'm down to two weeks until my work has to be shipped to my photographer so I'm in serious hustle mode. I have a lot left to do, but feel good about the path I'm on. I'm working a little differently than usual for this body of work, too. I often work on multiple things at once, maybe two at a time, and usually I complete these before moving on to something else. However, this time I'm working on all the pieces simultaneously. At first, I planned to devote one week per piece, but realized right away that this wasn't going to work because none of my ideas were truly ready. Instead, I've been slowly developing the work as a group with some days spent solely at my bench, other days with research, and others still divided between the two. My ideas become clearer every day, and they also become more complicated. At this point, all I can do is keep working and stay as focused as possible. I cannot think about the end, no matter how eager or stressed I get. And with that said, sometimes the end is all I can think about. 

This new work is layered and each piece has multiple parts which are not limited to jewelry. I'm also working with objects, drawings and text, arrangements and installations. I'm still not ready to really get into the pieces here, but I will say I'm using my mother's wedding dress and stones from the foundation of the house I grew up in. I'm looking to what I keep referring to as "archetypes" from the history of jewelry and I feel I'm creating artifacts of my home. I'm also honoring my life as a jeweler, while also ushering in my hopes for a future in sculpture and installation.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Etsy Monday!

I added another new piece to my Etsy shop this morning, and then I listed three more after that: all different pairs of earrings. Similar to my Line Drawing circle and arc earring styles, these pieces feature one graphic element in two sizes, but are made in brass with sterling silver ear wires. I made others like this in November for a few holiday sales and have these four pairs left. When they are gone, they will be gone…

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Guest Star #132…Richard Tuttle

Boys, Let's be Bad Boys

I first heard of Richard Tuttle when I was a resident at Penland. I had a critique with Christina Shmigel and she referenced his work while talking about mine. I looked him up right away and he went to the top of my favorite artists list immediately. I got a big coffee table book of his work for Christmas that same year and have poured over its pages time and again.

Tuttle's work is minimalist, abstract and poetic. It includes a variety of everyday and non-traditional materials, many of which are ephemeral in nature. From small objects and structures to large, room encompassing wire drawings, his work presents ideas and process at once. With a focus on scale, Tuttle is able to create intimacy in every piece, and intimacy between the work and the viewer and the work and the space it occupies. He treats the space itself as a material, as well, using it to add to the depth of the work while giving it an identity of its own. His use of space further causes the viewer to reconsider it because it has equal weight as the objects. I am fascinated by how seemingly simple Tuttle's work is as it continues to confound me; I know it's much more complicated than it looks.

8th Paper Octagonal

The following is a quote I read last night when preparing this post. I absolutely love it and will keep in the back of my mind from now on:

"If you’re going to be a visual artist, then there has to be something in the work that accounts for the possibility of the invisible, the opposite of the visual experience. That’s why it’s not like a table or a car or something. I think that that might even be hard for people because most of our visual experiences are of tables. It has no business being anything else but a table. But a painting or a sculpture really exists somewhere between itself, what it is, and what it is not-you know, the very thing. And how the artist engineers or manages that is the question."

3rd Rope Piece

44th Wire Piece

Pressure and Pace

Light and Color

Please visit my Pinterest to see more of my favorite Richard Tuttle pieces.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thinking About Atmosphere

When I was still in Asheville, I started paying close attention to what I call "atmosphere." I have continued to try to create this in my photos here in Richfield Springs, through night time photos, macro lens shots of snow and hazy images through curtains. I'm trying to create and capture a feeling through these pictures, while training my eye to see better. 

I just added lots of new images to Facebook.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. There is no filter on any of these photographs. The hazy effects are created via condensation on my lens or on the window I'm shooting through, while other effects happen just by the angle of my camera.