Let's Be Friends, 2013, talking stuffed toy,
fabric, stuffing, velcro, recording device

The one thing you should know about me, is that I once made a talking “uterus,” complete with detachable eyes, nose, and ovaries. It was my knee-jerk reaction to Congressman Todd Akin's infamous quote on abortion and "legitimate rape." And quite possibly the unexpected culmination of my BFA in Jewelry and Metal Arts from the California College of the Arts and my BA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.

In case you are curious, I have no idea how to sew, but I do have a warped sense of humor. I also happen to have a multi-cultural background. Born in the United States but raised on the subtropical island of Taiwan, I’ve shuttled back and forth between the two countries all my life. I was immersed in and grew up with two languages, two cultures, and two sets of conflicting societal expectations for women.

It was a lot for a middle schooler to reconcile, and I found myself agonizing over being assigned what I believed to be the more restricted and useless gender, something I struggle with even today. It wasn't until art school that I saw the possibilities of treating gender as a malleable accessory instead of the skin I couldn’t molt.

For my BFA thesis exhibition, titled “Feminism Is Dead!”, I transformed half of the gallery into an art museum exhibition, and the other half into a gift shop. 

Half of the room: the art museum exhibition.

The other half: the gift shop.

I had a long‐winded backstory about how this exhibition takes place in 2057, where people believe that gender inequality no longer exists, but it actually still does, and this can be seen in the gift shop aspect, and we still need to be PC in 2057 and do retrospectives on feminist art about dystopic futures, and so on and so forth. 

Silence Is Golden II, 2014, wearable sculpture, enamel, copper, sterling silver, grout


 This decorative mouth gag alters the landscape of the female appearance,
erasing the inconvenient existence of a woman and her inconvenient thoughts. 
The user literally holds her tongue in the U‐shaped groove.

But more importantly, I wanted to make the sometimes silent but damaging nature of normative gender roles visible for everyone. I wanted to reach a wider audience, including those who find the thought of "feminism" icky, so I decided to borrow the visual language of the two greatest institutions in the United States: the museum and consumerism.

I kept the art museum aspect aesthetically clean to connote authority, and then I took elements from the museum artwork and created souvenirs in the form of necklaces, keychains, posters, etc. Each item in the gift shop was for sale, and visitors were encouraged to purchase “edible artwork” to take home and integrate into their daily lives. You can read more about the grand gesture of decommodifying the commodified through commodification on my website.

How a Good Girl Sits: artwork and charm bracelet.

When I'm not contemplating gender in contemporary jewelry, I work on a collection of jewelry based on the varied lives of plastic. I admit that I am in a complicated relationship with plastic. It has permeated my daily life, protecting my food, holding my water, and pampering me with its shiny newness and low cost. Occasionally, it converges in small islands in the middle of the ocean. As a maker, I play with the ambiguous nature of this material and its perceived value. I carve, sand, and polish acrylic to explore my own guilt and addiction to this material.

In the meantime, I work as a jewelry artist’s assistant, a gallery assistant, and a freelance writer for Art Jewelry Forum. I apply for exhibitions and scholarships, and once in awhile I get lucky and get to write about gender in contemporary jewelry. Jewelry has a long history of being gendered in culture and playing an essential role in bodily performance, which is why it is such ripe grounds for dissection, subversion, and reconstruction of gender. I look forward to blogging on crafthaus and reading your comments in the future!

 

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This, too, sounds like an interesting exploration. Looking forward to learning more about it at some point:

When I'm not contemplating gender in contemporary jewelry, I work on a collection of jewelry based on the varied lives of plastic. I admit that I am in a complicated relationship with plastic. It has permeated my daily life, protecting my food, holding my water, and pampering me with its shiny newness and low cost. Occasionally, it converges in small islands in the middle of the ocean. As a maker, I play with the ambiguous nature of this material and its perceived value. I carve, sand, and polish acrylic to explore my own guilt and addiction to this material.

Hi Brigitte, it really is a fascinating subject. I just found out today that four of the beached North Sea sperm whales had large amounts of plastic in their stomachs. Even though the plastic wasn't the direct cause of their deaths, the plastic would eventually cause damage to their digestive systems. 

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Masthead Credits

Nisa Blackmon

"Symbihome", 2017

Copper, vitreous enamel, luster.

6.5"l x 4.5"w x 1.25"h.

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