Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Red and Blue Sculptural Trade Bead Jewelry

Here is a preview of my latest work for senior project.

I am using up my Ilha de Moçambique trade bead collection and making large, dimensional necklaces and bracelets. Each piece is woven with multiple yards of silver wire. I'm happy that my thesis work is turning out to be fun and colorful.

I find it ironic, however, that this is basically the same work I was doing pre-CCA (technically speaking at least). Trade beads and wire wrapping. Of course it's totally different, too.

I would have been incapable of making these pieces four years ago, not because of a lack of soldering or stone setting skills, but because my perspective has shifted so hugely. My eye has changed, my intention has changed, my sense of composition and balance has been sharpened.

This is why I wanted to go to art school as opposed to a trade college (there is a world class jewelry school here in the Bay Area, the Revere Academy, that would have been a valid but different option for going about my career change). At CCA I have been pushed and questioned and encouraged and criticized in a way I doubt would have happened at a trade school. I have had a major breakdown, many smaller crises, a handful of breakthroughs, and one gigantic "aha" moment. The entire experience has changed me as a person, for sure.

The process of working with old beads and wire is the same as it always has been: stringing, wrapping, tightening, forming. But the result is totally different, as is how I feel about the work.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 and a Graduation

The next five months will be very intense. It's (finally) my last semester at California College of the Arts and I will not only graduate with a BFA in May, I will be putting on my very first individual gallery show. Our senior thesis takes the form of a body of work that we must create, contextualize, install, illuminate, and present to the world. It will be on view for one week, with the opening reception May 1st. I am very excited but also anxious because an awful lot of work remains to be done.

In order to get through it all with a semblance of balance, these are my goals:

1. Exercise a minimum of four times per week. This is my main focus, for it seems if I manage to stay on top of this fitness goal, the rest falls into place quite naturally. I easily maintained this rhythm last semester and hope to do it again. What works for me is a combination of dance classes, personal training, and running with Team Flux (friends from school) and Rico.

2. Go with, not against, my natural biorhythms. I am neither a night owl nor a morning person. I like to go to bed around 11 and wake up between 7:30 and 8:30 (I need a lot of sleep to feel decent). I feel most inclined to exercise in the mid-morning and like to work in my studio in the afternoon and evening. I like to wind down the day by cooking a nice dinner followed by tv. If I have to pull an all-nighter, I can, but it makes me feel horrid for several days after. A better strategy, it seems, is to try and wake up at 4am to get work done if I am in a pinch. But really, slow and steady is by far the best way for me to approach things so I don't even have to contemplate a really late night or an unfortunately early morning.

3. Maintain systems of organization at home and in my studio to avoid the all-dreaded clutter takeover. I feel like I am eternally organizing, re-organizing, purchasing what I realize is missing, and donating what has overstayed its welcome. Part of my mission is motivated by efficiency. I love knowing where things go, the time saved when you don't have to search for a particular tool or winter hat, the daily annoyance avoided when surfaces are clutter-free and functional. Part of it, though, is totally therapeutic. I love the act of organizing and categorizing. It is definitely self-soothing, like if I can get a handle on the chaos inside my kitchen drawers everything else will be okay, too.

My favorite thing to organize is my closet. I think I redo it probably every two weeks, usually on Thursdays for some reason. I have different "filters" I apply to my clothes: sometimes I categorize by item type (e.g. sweaters, tank tops, skirts), other times it is by season, by color, or by function (formal wear vs. "creative professional" outfits vs. studio clothes. I even like to organize other people's closets, and have done my mom's, Rico's and Babi's (a dancer/friend from Brazil who is staying with us for a few months while she finishes a training program at the Alonso King LINES Ballet in San Francisco).

4. Spend time alone. Spend time with girlfriends. Spend time with Rico, just the two of us. Spend time with my mom. Spend time with the cats.

5. Believe unwaveringly that my senior show will come together in a way that makes me proud. Work at least three days per week in my studio, if not four once the holidays are over. Don't worry too much about scheduling and planning my creative work, just show up and commit to doing work in whatever form is flowing that particular day. It's like my favorite saying about gardening: What's the best thing to put on your garden to make it lush and beautiful? Your shadow.

6. Take vacations. I have to put them in my calendar months in advance to avoid the temptation to just keep working. But it's very important for me to rest my hands (tendonitis is a close companion, unfortunately) as well as my mind. I already have one penciled in for the week after I graduate. :)