Hello, dear readers! I’m so delighted to be blogging about my own work and the upcoming SNAG conference in New Orleans. I’d like to share a bit about myself and my creative process, in preparation for taking on the Big Easy.

welding

Portrait of the Artist, age 12

I’ve loved art and making things since I was little (I got my first glue gun at age eight, and once asked for my own roll of scotch tape for Christmas.) I made a concerted effort to not be an artist when I first started college, but it didn’t take. After I got a post-bacc certificate at Oregon College of Art and Craft I worked a couple “grown-up” jobs, and then decided to give full-time art a serious try.

Blue-Square-Dot-Earrings-1920x1920.jpg

From top: Brooch, brass and upcycled sewing thread; Earrings, brass, thread; Necklace, brass, sterling, thread

My work is materials-focused. I’m a nerd for a new tool, a new texture, a new space to play in. I spent a lot of time in art school worried about the concept behind a piece. Am I talking about collecting? Sentimentality? The emotional connections we make to objects?? Ultimately, yes… kind of. Maybe? For now, I have arrived at a place where I embrace the pure joy and emotional connection I feel to color and materials. I take so much pleasure in the process of shaping the substances I use, and my work is about the resonance I find in the formal aspects of a piece. I’m looking for the response I have when I stand in front of a Calder, or a Rothko, or something by Jean Arp, or Klee, or Miro. Mondrian, Calder (oh, is he on here twice?) Warhol, Nevelson, or any of the hundreds of other artists’ work I’ve stood in front of and ached.

From top: Louise Nevelson, Calder, Jean Arp, Mondrian (images shamelessly stolen from Google image search)

My work might have a “deeper” conceptual or representational side, one day, and all my thoughts on meaning and concept inform my thought processes now. But it’s taken a bit to be ok making a piece that’s really just about the joy of that line with that shape, or that color as expressed in that material. Sometimes when someone’s eyes get as big as mine when I look at an artwork I love, or when someone says they “just want to eat this. Is that weird? To want to eat it?” I feel like I’m on the right track.

I say I make jewelry because it’s impractical to wear a painting. The pieces I respond to, that make me want to make, also make me want to be as close to them as possible. To rub them on my body and push them into my soul. So the closest practical thing to do is to wear them. When I make a piece wearable, it is with the wish that someone else will respond on this level. That they will feel the wavelength of my work resonate in them, and want to smash it onto their person. If this is my goal, putting a pin back on the piece just seems like common courtesy.

“Red Landscape Brooch”, sterling, brass, stainless steel, thread



I want to have a long-term career as an artist. I have so many ideas and directions I want to explore, I feel sure I will need a lifetime to begin to address them all. So I’m planning on a lifetime of making art. And with that in mind, I’m asking, “how?” How do I get to do this forever? How do I make this sustainable? What are other people doing to make their careers feasible? Questions of commercialism, integrity, balance, and creative well-being are fascinating, because there are so many versions of the “right” answer. Different methods work for for different people. And it’s a scary time to say “I’m an artist.” I think a lot about artists’ place in the modern world and how we participate in building a better society, especially as an artist who doesn’t produce narrative or political works. For right now, I’ve decided honesty is a good place to start. I’ve begun my own little crusade to ask honest questions, and give honest answers (even if the answer is “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that,”) about our struggles, our emotions, our anxieties, and our processes.

So. How about it? Tell me all your secrets.

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Replies to This Discussion

I enjoyed reading this, and will tell you I am a self taught metalsmith. I didn't know anything about making jewelry until I started seeing Robert Lee Morris jewelry in Vogue, many years ago. I also have the perverse obsession of using silver plate trays, and found brass from the thrift store. It is very challenging! All the normal laws of metalsmithing do not apply. It also appeals to a very narrow audience, but as I said, I am perverse. 

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Hi Roxy! Thank you for adding your thoughts. I LOVE your work, and it just goes to show-- knowledge can come from many sources.

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Masthead Credits

Chanda Zea

Object Series 1, 2, 3

Porcelain, slipcast and altered with terra sigillata, rubber.
8” x 8” x 8”, 12” x 8” x 8”, 8” x 8” x 10
2013

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