Sorry for skipping Maker Crush Monday, and indeed, blogging all last week. I made the trek from PA to NC (10+ hours by car) last weekend and spent the rest of the week unpacking, getting settled and doing mundane things like grocery shopping and taking my car to the shop. I also spent a lot of time in my studio, which I'll blog about later.
This week's artist is Kristin Beeler, a phenomenal jeweler and professor at Long Beach City College. I remember being taken with her work when I first saw it, most likely in undergrad, but it was her lecture at the 2010 SNAG conference in Houston that cemented my love for her work. While I love her design sense, the asymmetry, purity of materials, use of line, and neutral colors, I think the thing that captures me most is how heavily researched her work is. It's not solely designed, not meant to be only pretty, not meant to convey a short quip, but instead a broader message. Her work is thoughtful as well as beautiful.
Beeler's artist statement reads:
"As an object, jewelry is radically intimate.
The body is a connector between the outward projection of personal adornment and the inward projection of memory, and so, becomes a meeting place of two realities. Our internal projections, based on flawed logic, can render beauty from cracks in the sidewalk, and discarded notes, peeling paint, tracks and signs of insects, old opinions, half-truths, scars, out-of-date philosophies and other ephemera.
The body houses visual memory, carries the jewel, keeps both in constant motion, always slightly elusive. While jewelry compels for its physical intimacy, photography’s sleight of hand is in its ability to make everything go still. In my current body of work, Rag and Bone Shop, the object and the memory, always in danger of slipping away, are frozen and finally belong to me."
I feel like my best work is also my best researched work, and that heavily researched work, beyond any historical context is becoming harder and harder to find. Too much of today's "research" may involve only cursory glances at history, forms, word meaning, etc. Or, it involves only research into one's personal and familial history. I remember when I was told that I was a bit of an anomaly for citing so many sources for my thesis paper, and indeed had friends who admitted to not citing any sources.
But does non-researched work hold it's own with researched work in a strictly visual setting, the rich "inner-life" of the work only being revealed through lectures and articles? Or does it somehow come across to the viewer, even if they can't quite describe what or how it is affecting them? Or does it all come down to intent, and damn the research? I don't know, but these are the things I think about in my own work. I want to make smart work, but I wonder if "smart" work is even still relevant.
You can see more of Kristin Beeler's amazing art here.
Thanks for reading.