Thursday, April 30, 2015

I'm Going to Grad School!

view of the Golden Gate Bridge 
from a recent trip to visit CCA before I made my decision

I'm going to grad school and, finally, after a year of thinking, applying, and deciding, I am ready to share my news with all of you. I am going to California College of the Arts in San Francisco for sculpture, installation, and interdisciplinary art in the fall! I will be moving in early June. I am simultaneously excited and scared, a mixture of feelings that I know is natural and reasonable. This is a huge step for me and a lot is about to change. I also know any amount of planning is not going to prepare me for what lies ahead. I just feel very deeply that this is the right next step for me. I feel a shift within me regarding my work and I am ready to focus on figuring it all out. Grad school will give me the time, space, and guidance I know I need to make it happen. I am looking forward to the challenge I'm sure it will be, and to seeing what happens in the next two years. 

Back in the fall I prepared my application and I am very proud of the writing I did for it. I worked for several months almost every day and chose to hire an editor because I felt this writing was too important to go it alone. I needed a professional, outside voice and eye to help. I worked with my friend, writer Katey Schultz, and it was one of the most rewarding processes I have ever been involved in. Katey helped draw my thoughts out of my head and onto paper in a clear, simple, and heartfelt way. I feel my statement expresses my interest in grad school and commitment to my work in a way that is true to who I am and I would like to share it with you now. I know it may look long, but it only takes a few minutes to read, and I truly hope you will.

In the near future I will talk more about grad school and about my experience with Katey. 


Amy Tavern - Personal Statement

"I have been a full-time artist and metalsmith for nearly ten years. My practice involves production, custom, and conceptual jewelry as well as the recent addition of sculptural objects and installations. I have taught workshops and lectured in the United States and Europe, and celebrated four solo exhibitions since 2012. My career is propelled by hard work, tenacity, sincerity, and deep-seeded motivation. I feel incredibly grateful for my successes and am emboldened to take a major step by applying to graduate school for sculpture, installation, and interdisciplinary work. California College of the Arts’ unique program suits my creative needs, ambitions, talents, and desire for growth.

I am a sensitive observer, striving to deeply understand what I do and why. I have always been this way and have memories of acknowledging each dilapidated barn as I rode to my grandparents’ house. As a young girl, I carefully arranged my collection of delicate rabbit figurines in my room and spent playtime making furniture to fill dollhouses. As a teenager, I grew curious about interpersonal relationships and felt acutely aware of slight changes between friends. I remember the moment I realized what it means to miss someone--I was 17 and had just finished reading a letter from a relative. As an adult, I earned two bachelor’s degrees, the second without financial assistance from my parents; I moved across the U.S. and back, occupying 25 different apartments since 1992. I have dealt with divorce and excruciating heartbreak and experienced career triumphs that made me leap with joy while also challenging me to push further. I see incredible beauty in everything I encounter, from a breathtaking moss-covered lava field in Iceland to a derelict factory in my hometown, from suffering through a break-up, to watching my father with Alzheimer’s forget my name. I remain positive, hopeful, and steadfast, and continue to learn. I see life as a work of amazing opposites and I embrace it with open, delighted arms. 

In this short decade between the completion of my second bachelor’s degree to returning home to care for my dad, my work has grown: from formal production designs to one-of-a-kind, sculptural jewelry; from abstract narrative pieces about memories, to complex, multi-dimensional works combining jewelry, objects, ritual, arrangements, and installation. My career has put me in touch with a diverse range of people in places around the world and provided opportunities for personal research and critical influence through direct experience and extensive conversations. I have made work with native materials, taught Icelandic children to embroider, and answered questions about my life as a stranger in a strange land. My critical influences include Ólafur Elíasson for the way he uses atmosphere and light; Ragnar Kjartansson for his ability to create sculpture out of sound; Sophie Calle for her keen observation of daily life; Sol LeWitt for his belief that the idea is paramount; and Dario Robleto for his sensitive manipulation of found objects.

My work is rooted in memory and this began when I catalogued and studied all the jewelry I own or have memories of owning. This careful studying became an essential part of my process and deepens as I observe my father's Alzheimer's. I focus on memory recall, fabrication, and loss, but what further parallels exist? I would like to expand my concepts at CCA by examining connection and solitude, displacement and migration, and by deconstructing the ephemeral. I’m also interested in using memory to create experiences rather than objects. I believe anything can be a material--from light to video to emotion--and wonder how I can treat memory as such.

Most recently, my work took a huge turn when I spent two months in a remote village in Northwest Iceland. I made textile-based pieces that allowed my mind and hands to work in different ways than metalsmithing. I created four works there, some composed of multiple pieces, and gave myself room to think. I took long daily walks, thoughtfully looked at every detail around me, documented my observations in thousands of photographs, and contemplated my life as I stitched Island of 14,264 Days for hours on end. I am thrilled with the work I made there, but what I’m most excited about is the shift that took place in heart and mind. This body of work, 11 large-format textile necklaces and one embroidered abstract self-portrait, made it clear that I was changing directions. I am compelled to follow this path and I need critical challenge and guidance, community and independence to allow these ideas to manifest and grow.

Contemplating my life as I work allows me to understand my experiences and draws me closer to people and surroundings. It heightens my sensitivity to the human condition and ties me to others through commonality. My most treasured moments are ones in which time seemed nonexistent. Now, I want to make immersive installations that recreate this experience, if only for a moment, and I want to connect this work with as many people as possible. I believe this work will establish connections that cause viewers to feel embraced. This relates naturally to my work as a jeweler, where I am always concerned with the body as a site. How can memory translate from objects worn on the body to larger works that surround the body? What will change? My current work solidified my determination to go to graduate school and gave me confidence that California College of the Arts’ MFA program absolutely suits me. I will be a hard-working, open-minded, sincere member of your community and look forward to working with you."


Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 Days in the Life of a Jeweler

reworking older work into new one-of-a-kind 
and limited edition pieces

A new Facebook challenge is surfacing called 5 Days in the Life of a Jeweler:

"If you get nominated, then once a day for 5 days running you post what it means to you, on a day-to-day level, to be a jeweler. Include a pic of your work if you like and each day you nominate a fellow jeweler to take part."

I was nominated by jeweler, UW alum, and friend, Michelle Jansuy.

What does it mean to me to be a jeweler? Every day is different. I spend on average half my day making work and half my day doing business. I make jewelry for my galleries, fill Etsy orders, make wedding rings and other custom jewelry, and create one-of-a-kind and conceptual work for exhibitions... I answer emails, blog and do other online marketing, prepare classes and lectures, create invoices, do my bookkeeping. I also try to sketch, write about my work, and pursue other creative projects. I don't do all of these things every day, but I often juggle many of them. I think this is typical for anyone in the field and anyone making art. The varied to-do list keeps things interesting, and challenging. It also keeps me on my toes and pretty much ready for anything. I love what I do, every bit of it.

This week I have a busier than usual schedule as I prepare to leave for 16 days but I want to participate. So, instead of five consecutive days, here are five recent images from my studio that illustrate the five-day challenge, all pictures of the making half of my life as a jeweler:

prepping production jewelry for my upcoming trunk show 
at Velouria in Seattle

making an 18K yellow gold wedding band

documenting contributions for the Pearl Piece 
for my solo exhibition at Sienna Patti Contemporary

painting a selection of Regal Graffiti in my new Iceland palette

Thanks so much to Michelle for nominating me and for the kind words she wrote about me and my work on her FB post. Please check out her gorgeous work!

Finally, my nomination... I'm going to choose only one person since I'm only posting on one day. I would like to nominate Paul Adie, my friend and fellow metalsmith from Scotland. His work is wonderful, too!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Pearl Piece Update #5

from Philip Sajet, Amsterdam, Netherlands

For today's update (and my last update for a bit) I would like to share my list of wonderful, generous contributors. Thanks to everyone who has donated so far. It's been incredibly gratifying to open each of your packages and find all your beautiful pearls and kind words. Thank you! I will add to the list as more pearls arrive...

Chris Keener, Huron, OH
Terry Taylor, Candler, NC
Lisa Norton, Shoreline, WA
Renee Zettle-Sterling, Coopersville, MI
Amy Hockett, Charlotte, NC 
Bonnie Lambert, Helena, MT 
Lucia Tremont, Syracuse, NY 
Rebbecca Tomas, Seattle, WA 
Charlene Schneider, Maineville, OH 
Ellen Vontillius, Swannanoa, NC 
Denise McCarthy, Houston, TX 
Gill Miller, Lancaster Park, England
Shannon Cobb-Tappan, Dunedin, FL
Mark Fenn, Capel Iwan, Wales
Jowita Allen, Chevy Chase, MD 
Baba Barnett, Raleigh, NC 
Shava Lawson, Seattle, WA 
Janna and Leah Marinelli, Traveler’s Rest, SC
Kelly Johnston, Bainbridge Island, WA
Kathy Clark, Reykjavík, Iceland 
Laura Siegel, Brooklyn, NY
Jannie Rozema, Wageningen, Netherlands
Rachel Ehlers, Lake Ridge, VA
Tom McCarthy, St. Louis, MO
Anastasia Young, London, England 
Jane Wells Harrison, Lenoir, NC
Janet Link, Raleigh, NC
Jenny Baughman, Roswell, GA
Lisa Juen, Utica, NY
Hilary Pfeifer, Portland, OR
Susie Luyet, Paia, HI
Sarah Powell, Oberhaching, Germany
Liz Willis, Pirton, England
Philip Sajet, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jen Townsend, Pittsford, NY
Heather Allen, Raleigh, NY
Raissa Bump, San Francisco, CA 
Michael Magno, Brooklyn, NY 
Casey Shepard, Los Angeles, CA
Eileen Wallace, Athens, GA 
Kathy Brughelli, Middletown, RI 
Marianne Dages, Philadelphia, PA 
Fritz Maierhofer, Vienna, Austria 
Dan Price, Chicago, IL
Mary Quin, Decatur, GA
Claire Sommers Buck, Austin, TX 
Linda Callahan, Gloversille, NY
Katie Rosenthal, San Diego, CA 
David Chatt, Penland, NC
Chris Boland, Sheffield, England 
Rachel Davis, Milwaukee, WI 
Kris Baker, Seattle, WA 
Maria Phillips, Seattle, WA 
Lori Hawke-Ramin, LaFayette, NY 
Michele Tuegel, St. Petersburg, FL
Kelsey Simmen, San Francisco, CA
Erin Wheeler, Johnstown, NY
Crystalyn Brennan, Brooklyn, NY
Elisa Bongfeldt, Berkeley, CA
Stephanie Voegele, Milwaukee, WI 
Adrienne Smart, Lincoln, NE
Susan Owen, Vilas, NC
Elizabeth Brim, Penland, NC
Meadow Thurston (in memory of)
Carolina Apolonia, Middelburg, Netherlands
Rebecca Illet, Cambridge, England
Kathy Edwards Hayslett, Coralville, IA
Madeleine Veillet, Gaspe, Quebec, Canada
Virginia Hungate-Hawk, Seattle, WA
Tracy Scott, Atlanta, GA
Michelle Smith-Lewis, Seattle, WA
Sarah Rachel Brown, Philadelphia, PA
Jenna Warburton, Seattle, WA
Paul Casey, Seattle, WA
Lisa Macutchan Gray, Seattle, WA
Lori Talcott, Seattle, WA
Catherine Chandler, Portland, OR
Stacey Mosteller and Noreen Coveny,
Endicott and Richfield Springs, NY
Holinka Escudero, Mexico City, Mexico
Jane Ponsford, Esher, England
Jan Smith, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Mary Wolaniuk, Boulder, CO
Christina Carlbaum, Gnarp, Sweden
Louise Perrone, Vancouver, BC Canada
Devon Matlock, San Francisco, CA
Siri Kvalfoss, Tyssedal, Norway
Claire MacDonald, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Emily Kidson, London, England
Michele Wyckoff Smith, London, England
Tara Locklear, Raleigh, NC
Robin Kranitzky and Kim Overstreet, Richmond, VA
Natascha Bybee, Seattle, WA
Natalia Araya, Valencia, Spain
Katja Prins, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Diego Richardson Nishikuni, London, England
Andrea Wagner, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Lylli Meredith, Seattle, WA
Elle Sharifpour, San Francisco, CA
Miri Admoni, Sde Tzvi, Israel
Bonnie Levinthal, Philadelphia, PA
Lien de Clercq, Antwerp, Belgium
Melody Woodnutt, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Katharina Schneider, Blönduós, Iceland
Karen Vanmol, Antwerp Belgium
Yvette Dibos, San Diego, CA
Devon Clark, Palm Harbor, FL
Amy Bishop, Aptos, CA 
Anonymous, Long Beach, CA
Anastasia Egorova Shelyakina, Illes Balears, Spain
Cathy Woodall, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, England
Caitlin Skelcey, Urbana, IL
Sam Woehrmann, San Francisco, CA
Rachel Weidinger, Oakland, CA
Hilde De Decker, Antwerp, Belgium
Kit de Sousa, Randolph, New Jersey
Bette Schuler, Tuscon, AZ
Melissa Lyon, Sherman, NY
Susan Bolding, Hayward, CA
Catherine Chambers, Ísafjörður, Iceland
Jonis Black-Parr, Seattle, WA
Christina Shmigel, Shanghai, China/Bakersville, NC
Nikki Couppee, Oakland, CA
Sara Erkers, Gothenburg, Sweden
Dawn Nakanhishi, Soquel, CA
Kerianne Quick, San Diego, CA
Shane Prada, Baltimore, MD
Mike Holmes, San Francisco, CA
Julia Turner, San Francisco, CA
Tescia Seufferlein, Oakland, CA
Lisa Fidler, Petaluma, CA
Sharon Tavern, Richfield Springs, NY
Elísa Mjöll Guðsteinsdóttir, Los Angeles, CA
Brooke Marks-Swanson, South Bend, IN
Lisa Heller, Philadelphia, PA
Kathleen Browne - Ravenna, OH
Megan McGaffigan, Vancouver, WA
Maya Kini, San Francisco, CA
Maria Porges, Oakland, CA
Chelsea Poe, Oakland, CA
Liz Oppenheim, Oakland, CA
Sara Valente, Herkimer, NY
Helga Ragnhildur Mogensen, Reykjavík, Iceland


And, as a reminder, I am, indeed, still collecting pearls. Please send yours to me at the following address:

Amy Tavern
2015 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109

Thanks for reading.

P.S. If you are one of my contributors and I have spelled your name incorrectly or gotten the name of your town wrong, please let me know. I have checked and doubled checked, but there is always room for error. Or, if you sent a pearl and do not see your name, please also let me know. Again, I have checked and double checked... and it's possible I have not received it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Pearl Piece Update #4

from Kelsey Simmen, San Francisco, CA

I just love some good packaging and I imagine many of you understand me when I say this. I have received a number of pearls boxed and bagged in obviously special ways... a round pearl nestled among origami birds, a vintage Japanese cotton pearl cinched in velvet, a glass vile of pearls inside a box adorned with a feather from a pet bird, a vintage faux pearl choker carefully pinned inside folded Belgian linen.

from Kelsey Simmen, San Francisco, CA

from Rachel Ehlers, Lake Ridge, VA

from Bonnie Lambert, Helena, MT

from Bonnie Lambert, Helena, MT

from Janet Link, Raleigh, NC

from Janet Link, Raleigh, NC

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Pearl Piece Update #3

handmade polymer clay pearls from Gill Miller, 
Lancaster Park, Morpeth, England 
(Gill is an admirer of my work and a fellow artist.

As I mentioned in my first update I have nearly 70 pearl contributions, which is remarkable to me. Most pearls have come from around the U.S. but I have received several from other countries, too, including Iceland, England, Austria, Netherlands, and Germany. I know many of the contributors--friends, family members, colleagues--but there are a number of people I don't know. Pearls have ranged from perfect singular pieces to strands of creamy faux pearls to natural pearls in very unusual shapes. One person made pearls for me with polymer clay. This diversity is what I was hoping for: all kinds of pearls from all kinds of people, and I get more and more excited with each new pearl that arrives. When I get a package, I open it carefully and examine the contents. There is often a note to read, too. I add the contributor's name to my growing list along with where he or she lives and a short description of the donation. Then I send a thank you message and photograph the pearl and packaging here in my studio. I feel all these steps are necessary and part of the process. I usually take this time to focus on the donation and the person who gave it to me whether I know her or not. Here are pictures of a few contributions:

very unusual natural pearl from Chris Keener, Huron, OH 
(Chris is a former student.)

two strands of faux pearls from Michele Tuegel, St. Petersburg, FL 
(Michele is one of my gallerists.)

perfect pearl from Rebbecca Tomas, Seattle, WA 
(Rebbecca works at Pratt Fine Arts Center and we have been working together on my upcoming class.) 

Thanks for reading.