Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stuck in the Middle

As a studio jeweler born well after the last of the baby boomers, I often feel like an artist out of place. I feel an affinity for the craft movement that their generation -- and even the generation before it -- created. Yet my career trajectory is happening in a different time and place. I cannot expect to have the same path they did. The structure that supported their work is well past its heyday.

In my own generation, there is a new wave of craft whose goals and means seem fundamentally different from mine. They seem to be after a granny's church craft fair with a twist aesthetic.

The work of this new wave craft movement seems to embrace amateurism and an outsider artist ethos. However, it is not true outsider art. So much of it is derivative work. Irony trumps craftsmanship. Wouldn't be so much more subversive to be a master of a difficult medium, leaving the viewer startled by the convergence of mastery and message?

Some examples:
Jan Yager
Richard Notkin
Keith Lewis

I have a hard time relating to the new wave crafters; in fact, I don't even know what to talk about when I meet them in person since I really don't have an inclination to make cute things with skulls on them in the name of being subversive.

Where does this leave someone in their 20s or 30s seeking to become a master of their medium first and foremost? (I am not promoting a message with my work at present, but who is to say that it won't happen as time goes on?)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Art Jewelry Forum Award

Blue Brooch
sIlver and suede
I found out the other day that my friend and colleague Andrea Janosik is the recipient of the Emerging Artist Award from the Art Jewelry Forum. I am so excited for her. This is a competitive award and it will give her deserved recognition in the art jewelry community. I previously profiled her in this post, when I went to do a studio visit.
Andrea has been a great inspiration to me, pushing me in new directions in my own work. When we go to the SofaNY show together, we have very clear and very different preferences, but I appreciate her perspective. I expect her to have a long and fruitful career in art jewelry.

The Art Jewelry Forum is a collectors group and they will be presenting her with an award at the Sofa show in Chicago, (Novermber 1-4th 2007). I expect that one of the galleries showing at Sofa will have Andrea's work on display as well.

Orange Bracelet
silver and suede

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gross Misrepresentation

I have considered using adwords for my site and my blog, so I sometimes search for things such as "engagement rings" or "handmade jewelry", to see what comes up. Imagine my horror to see Zales, Blue Nile, and yes... Target (didn't show up at this moment as I tried again). Don't be fooled. The term studio jewelry is meant to describe work made by a single jeweler, or atelier, pursuing a particular vision of jewelry design and making.

I have been noticing this misappropriation of words for some time now. Starbucks likes to bill it's lattes and frappaccinos as "handcrafted". Yes, indeed it is made by hand, but aside from those automated machines, how else are you going to make a latte? It is stating the obvious and making the word less powerful.
Another prevalent misrepresentation was discussed in an interview with author Dana Thomas on the Leonard Lopate show, which aired on WNYC. If luxury is massed-produced and marked up, where is the luxury in that. I think true luxury comes with having your purchase attended to by the maker or a representative of the maker, with very little remove between the oneself and the originator.