Juror: Alison Antelman
What led you to study metalsmithing/jewelry making? Please mention your school and year of study.
I’ve been always attracted to decorative things. In my design aesthetic, I prefer “more is more”. Woman is a creature that likes to do addition, and my design point always starts from a female perspective. Thus my starting point is simplicity, to design pure beauty products for women, which means jewelry and metal arts is a perfect major for me. I’m studying in jewelry design for 2 years in Academy of Art University.
What intrigues you most about this field/craft?
Be smart and work hard. Maybe my answer is too general for this question, but it was what I did in past two years. I am a beginner in the jewelry field, but I figured out that when I got stuck, I wouldn’t keep trying the same way to solve the problem. I’d prefer to use another similar way to achieve the result that I wanted. The result is always same; save more time and make less mistakes next time. The important trick is always do a sample or a test before you start, which means you have to work hard and squeeze more time for each design.
Otherwise, I like to read some historical articles that relates with my retro design’s background/direction, and I can find some inspirations from articles’ content or even a word.
What are your plans after graduation—both realistically and ideally?
After I graduate, I’d like to be an inter or assistant for a jewelry designer to enrich my jewelry making skills and experiences or maybe become a jewelry designer in a jewelry company that fits my aesthetic to gain more design experiences. In general, these practical thoughts all prepare me for my goals. I’d like to introduce my jewelry to the world.
What do you wish your school’s program would offer, or what did you enjoy about your program?
I wish our department could open additional new classes that invite students get to know more about jewelry field and also apply to more job opportunities, such as gem identification or jewelry repair. I can feel that every student who is a jewelry major is also deeply in love with it. Schools should systematically arrange our program, in order to train us how to make jewelry step by step. I think everyone can be a creator and successful jewelry maker. I’m really enjoy seeing other artists works and we can learn from each other.
Are there any metal artists whose work inspires you—what it is about their work that is inspiring?
Melanie Bilenker is a creative jewelry designer. Actually, I found her artworks only few months ago, after I had decided my final graduate direction. And I realized her concept and style share similarities with mine. She also inspired by the Victorian era’s love and is good at using drawing to express her ideas.
She says, “The Victorians kept lockets of hair and miniature portraits painted with ground hair and pigment to secure the memory of a lost love. In much the same way, I secure my memories through photographic images rendered in lines of my own hair, the physical remnants. I do not reproduce events, but quiet minutes, the mundane, the domestic, the ordinary moments.” I think her body of work is more successful than mine, because she finds an unique style that uses her own hair to narrate everyday life in her jewelry, and it’s much stronger and attractive. I won’t pursue her way of success but I have to figure it out another special body of work that can make people astounding, enchanting and inspiring.
Another artist that effects me a lot is Marie Zimmermann. She passed away 41 years ago, but her volume of work and techniques is still found in modern metalsmithing. She worked with multiple metals, including silver, gold, copper, iron and her designs included jewelry, tableware, boxes, dagger, etc. “During her lifetime, institutions recognized the unique niche that Zimmerman filled in the world of metal and design. Museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and private collectors purchased pieces of her work to add to their collections in the 1920’s and 30’s. Marie Zimmermann’s prowess was heralded during her time–The Art Institute of Chicago awarded her the Logan Award in 1924.” She is a pioneering metal artist, and she is also my idol. I hope in the future, that my work and I will also be remembered.
If you were given the time and means to create your ultimate work, what would it be?
I’ve been thinking about doing an installation that relates with my ornamental and vintage style. I’m going to create a retro and ornate atmosphere in a space, every single component will be my work and made by my hand. I’ll treat this room as my own gallery, and I wish that every viewer who walks in this room is influenced by this vintage atmosphere.
What are you currently working on? Any upcoming shows or events to plug?
I am not working on any design. I’ve been thinking how to make my final collection have deeper meaning, a stronger visual effect, and how to present it to the viewer. I still prefer to continue to do narrative work in the future because I think if jewelry not only has decorative appearance, it also has something to say to the viewer, it will make this kind of jewelry more mysterious and attractive.
Any words of wisdom you would offer prospective metal arts students?
Follow the masters! But why should one follow them? The only reason they are masters is that they didn’t follow anybody. -Paul Gauguin
If you aim to dispense with method, learn method.
If you aim at facility, work hard.
If you aim for simplicity, master complexity. – Lu Ch’ai (Wang Kai)
When you take a chance you may lose, When you don’t you always lose. -Anonymous
Do you have any art-related resources (websites, vendors, etc) that you would like to share with guild members?