Artist Statement 2008
Letting Go of Thinking I'm in Control, or Ever Will Be
Could I possibly find another art form in which control is more evident and necessary? Bending miniscule wires to separate color areas. The careful application of tiny grains of enamel powder, and then the short, intense firing required to melt the colors. The repeated application and firing of thin layers until the height of the cloisonn wires is reached. Incredibly small yet carefully cut pieces of thin gold and silver foils layered in just the right spot to provide pattern and texture. And finally, the meticulous process of polishing the enamel surface so that all of my attention to detail can be seen in all it's splendor. Was my work obsessive? One of my students referred to the process as mosquito surgery.
Eight years ago when my wife and I traveled to China to adopt a 13 month old little girl, my life changed in ways I couldn't have anticipated. I no longer had even the illusion of control in my life. This precious child, now almost 9 years old, has forced me to be more patient and accepting. With my wife's prodding, and almost two years of psychotherapy, I've learned to challenge the black or white paradigm in which I grew up.
A few years ago my daughter's school asked me to help her class create a work of art to be auctioned off as a fundraiser. I chose to make a mosaic mirror; we used beads, glass tiles, and photographs under glass as the border around the mirror. Working with the beads and tiles was like a new world for me. For 28 years I had worked with precious materials, making tiny, delicate objects which I felt needed to be perfect. Breaking apart glass tiles, gluing beads, adding dabs of paint, and then spreading grout over the entire surface was just what I needed to free myself of this need for control and perfection. Of course having the hands of 5 year olds in the process didn't hurt at all either. It was a feeling I had rarely experienced as an artist, and I loved it.
As much as I liked the process of mosaics, I couldn't imagine myself switching from jeweler/enamelist to mosaic artist. But I didn't want to lose this new freedom. I began a new series in which I made my own tiles: thin textured pieces of fine silver and 24 karat gold which I could cut up and apply in a mosaic style within the layers of my enamels. As the transparent colors are applied and fired over these foil tiles, the colors and textures really pop, and the contrast of either a black or white background underneath the foils adds even more interest.
This new approach to designing and making has been tremendously freeing. By letting go of the way I've thought my work should look, I've rekindled my passion for enamel and color. Wires and lines even become insignificant, as I'm more willing to let the colors and texture dominate my designs. While I do sometimes still work in a figurative style in which line is important, I?'m able to keep a free and playful approach. Yes, my pieces are still small, detailed, and incredibly obsessive. But I've learned that life is short and needs to be enjoyed, and even in a small space (like a cloisonne cell) I can have a lot of fun