Memorial and Reincarnation:
Memorial and Reincarnation began organically with an exchange between a Facebook friend and their broken object, which I nonchalantly said I would turn into an art jewelry piece. After evaluating this exchange it evolved into a larger project. I wrote a post on my Timeline asking for broken sentimental objects. The first 15 people to comment “I am in,” would receive a piece of art jewelry with the use of their object. The only stipulation was I can transform the object with my discretion.
I was given objects by national and international Facebook friends. Each of the piece’s form and material was determined by my individual aesthetic and enhanced by personal stories attached to the objects, which were gratefully shared by each of the participants. The objects are given a new life, containing the embedded and potential memories. The transformed object as jewelry becomes a method of connecting to my collaborators, a larger public audience and established art jewelry enthusiasts.
Social media has changed the way humans interact on multiple levels, while many relationships only occur through the screen. The exchange between myself and the other individuals in the project bring an intangible quality into the tangible. There seems to be a culture of hate fostered in the digital social atmosphere, which perpetuates anonymous negativity. I wanted to do something positive with social media, which goes beyond “Face” value (pun intended). The work uses social networking to spread contemporary art jewelry into the world.
I have recently been displaced from living in a city, which has left an emptiness in my life. The creation of each piece has become a method to fill the void, and a reflection of the many aspects of city living. The forms are architectural, modular, constructed from steel, becoming allegorical representations of the energy of a thriving, vibrant environment. The variations of forms show diversity and are linked to concepts of dancing lights, and the beautiful musical chaos in the streets. Steel is painted with vibrant colors giving vitality to the cold, hard material. Stitching softens the hard-edged forms creating a sense of comfort and approachability paralleling my nostalgia for city life. The thread acts as a metaphorical timeline of an individual’s pathway meandering through the busy streets. Each break in the thread signifies a person amongst the many. Although city living can often create distance between people, there remains a sense of connection and community. As jewelry, the body completes the piece as people fill and give life to architectural spaces, expressing the vitality and connection I feel towards the urban human experience.
These souvenirs in the form of jewelry are meant to capture noteworthy places and events from the past and present of my hometown, Buffalo, New York. They are wearable testimonials to be sported with pride, to honor my roots, and inform the public of this unique city. Each piece in this body of work provides a glimpse into the surroundings and atmosphere the citizens encounter everyday.
Buffalo is a rust belt city with a rich and significant history in the context of the national and global setting and the remnants of its past have become the base for revitalization. The city has put in place an urban renewal plan to recover its past economic and cultural success it once held in the late 19th and early 20th century while simultaneously proudly clutching with humility to its rustic charm, which can be seen in the aesthetics of the work. The vibrant colors highlight the unwavering optimism and energy the people and I have during the city’s renaissance.
Historically, the economy of Buffalo was primarily dependent on steel production, grain mills, the use of the ports on Lake Erie and the Erie Canal. These once prosperous industries collapsed, leaving the ruins to be left and forgotten. These abandoned sites have recently been reintroduced in new light with potential for revenue. After reflecting on this topic I decided to memorialize my personal sentiment and pride through the preciousness and durability of metal as well as driftwood collected from Lake Erie. I want my personal reflection of urban renewal in Buffalo to influence how others view the city they live in and to cultivate widespread change.
G.E.M.s (Gender Equality Mascots)/Larger than Life:
This body of work intends to explore the blur between gender roles, while searching for equality in unexpected places. I feel that for many, sexual orientation, gender roles, and gender expression in society are no longer black and white, or obviously distinguishable. I believe we are currently progressing away from a world of traditional gender roles and categorical stereotypes, and in response to this evolution, I have created mascots that support the progression of our society to view and express gender in all of its facets.
These ‘mascots’ are referencing sea slugs (nudibranchs), marine mollusks which are neither male nor female. There are over 3,000 known species ranging in scale, extravagant patterns, and vibrant colors inhabiting the entire world. It is because of these inherent qualities I have made these sea slugs into my Gender Equality Mascots (G.E.Ms.). Through this work I hope to avidly inform the public about gender issues with these colorful creatures.
As a gay man, I constantly have to be conscious of my masculinity and its perception in social settings, even within gay culture. I am not always conscious of the preoccupation, because it is embedded within my mind. I have referenced protective gear from a very traditional masculine past-time and made it overtly feminine, making the viewer aware that we all have masculine and feminine traits. This piece was inspired by Native American two-spirit culture. Traditionally, a two-spirited person embodies both male and female spirits and is not to be confused with homosexuality.
Strangeness is universal, constant, and timeless.
Although we are aware or neglect to be aware, we all feel it.
We peer in, through to the spirit.
The exterior is lost and of no concern.
We are all connected, common threads bind us.
Equality begins when we truly see each other.
Real humanity is love.
In my eyes, two-dimensional artwork only alludes to depth and volume, but will never truly achieve the interaction of actual space. These illusions draw attention because they activate curiosity, but they do not go beyond the allure and veil of disbelief, never physically engaging the viewer. This series of work extrudes depth and volume from the surface into the tangible. The two-dimensional media is translated into materials to illustrate actual texture and not mimicked. By placing these objects onto the body, I call attention to the ongoing American discussion of jewelry as a Fine Art form. The intent is to further close the gap between the established and the invalidated.
Barriers between people are only worn away when the individual chooses to be receptive of the unfamiliar. Blind certainty is an armor which only time can penetrate. The barriers are intangible but as real as the power they hold. The anchor bouy and nautical appearance of the work is a metaphor for the distances we create in our interpersonal and social relationships and the journeys we take in those relationships. The jewelry acts as a physical representation of the unseen divide. These objects act as an avenue for me to express a progressive attitude towards human rights.