My work focuses on body adornment that invites interaction between participants. I create forms that connect the wearer and viewer in a physical dialogue. The conceptual jewelry I create acts as an interface through their lush exotic surfaces and organic forms which combine traditional jewelry concepts with my interest in the use of space as, and expansion for, interaction and exploration. In an essay titled Intimacy and Objects: A Proxemic Analysis of Gender-Based Response to the Material World. Beverly Gordon states:
"The distances-intimate, personal, social and public-each entail distinct kinds of sensory input and response; they correspond to different kinds of human interaction and behavior. When individuals interact with people from different distances according to Hall they automatically respond with attitudes, perceptions, and feelings that characterize those distances. I suggest that individuals also interact with objects from these distances and have concomitant responses to them." (Martinez Ames 238)
The nonverbal world of body language is fascinating, examining how spatial relationships, or proxemics, the study of man's appreciation and use of space, varies with cultural and individual understanding. As a species, man is highly territorial but we are rarely aware of it unless our space is somehow violated. Spatial relationships and territorial boundaries directly influence our daily encounters. Maintaining control over such space is a key factor in personal comfort. The subtlety of spatial interactions in everyday heightens personal awareness.
Rachelle Thiewes work has a familiarity to mine because she explores the nature of the senses both physically and psychologically. Her work is most often described as the corporeal reality of gestures, rhythms, and cycles, and is most expressive when activated by humans in motion. She strategically places forms in site specific locations on the body to capture movement and light. Dutch jeweler, Gijs Bakker's, work questions not only the jeweler's role in making the jewelry but also, why people wear
jewelry, and how jewelry affects people. In 1973 he designed a body of work he called 'Organic' which was a series of photographs in which he shows the impression of gold wire that had been wrapped tightly around different parts of the body and removed. The marks left by the wire he conceptualized to be the jewelry.
My series titled 'After Midnight' was designed to have the pendant specifically hung in the pelvic region to emphasize a juxtaposition of a tactile surface to an area of the body not commonly adorned with tactile elements. Like Rachelle Thiewes, I design my jewelry for site specific locations on the figure. When I wore 'After Midnight' to a social gathering my intimate personal space was intruded upon by an admirer of its unique placement of a tactile surface. The trespasser proceeded to reach for and take the pendant in his hands to closely examine it, and ignoring my initial reaction to his intrusion in to my space. This experience was
flattering to me as a jeweler but offensive as a wearer. The concept derived from this encounter lead to an exploration of interaction through pieces of jewelry.
Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica, a pair of Brazilian artists, who created collaborative works of art in the 1960's and 1970's, made sensorial creations from masks, goggles, hoods, suits, gloves to capes. This series of work made me look at art in a new way. I first came in contact with their work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 2001. In October 2005, I had the opportunity to see and interact with the body of work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago which rekindled my interest with the interactive element which I had become interested in after studying Electronic media.
'Angus', 'Thongs', and 'Full-Frontal', share some of the same participatory interaction as the work of Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica. The jewelry has been designed to resemble an industrial like orifice. It is strategically positioned on the chest. Movement from the wearer allows the appendage to reveal a deep opening which entices spectators to become participants by inserting a finger into the appendage. This participation reveals the physical sensation of a connection with the wearer through the piece of adornment. Both the wearer and the participant experience a connection through shared illumination derived from the fondling of the soft inner structure.
The initial outward appearance of my jewelry is to tempt and entice admirers to participate in a close interaction not only with the piece of adornment but the wearer as well. The shared experience of the jewelry is full of sensual tactility and soulful experiences derived from the social connection between participant and wearer. My goal, in designing, the brooch titled, 'Back-Up Confessional' was to develop a wearable object that would encourage investigation of the piece. This creates a union for the wearer and viewer within a specific an area of the wearer's body. The viewer soon realizes that he/she are not only interacting with the jewelry to stimulate his/her senses but is also stimulating the wearer as well.
In this body of work I have observed that the participants are more aware of their personal space and distance causing them to define and negotiate the interface between their private and public areas, particularly during the moments leading up to contact. I consciously made decisions to create situations that would alter the physical distance from other people in a shared space, by creating a situation that communicates subtle messages such as a willingness to engage in dialogue with the wearer. My goal was to create a desire either for more intimacy between wearer and viewer or, to create anxiety for the wearer by inviting unwanted contact. A dialogue centered on attraction is the central theme in the piece titled, 'Voices from the Garden: The People Lilies'. Influenced directly by Gijs Bakker's performative jewelry I created 'Voices in the Garden'. This piece is an example of how jewelry has the potential to encourage a multitude of people to become closer to one another. In this work each wearer places a finger into a series of connected rings. Not only are the participants physically bound by the rings but each wearer experiences the sensation of many fingers wearing one 'ring' creating an intimate and tactile environment. 'Voices from the Garden' creates interaction that may be comforting or disquieting to the wearers but they are forced to transcend the normal barriers of their personal space, exploring the sensation of physical closeness. My MFA Thesis explores our awareness of space and intimacy with others produced by interaction wherein the viewer becomes a participant in an area where public interaction does not normally take place. As a result of the work's unusual approach and character it successfully engaged wearer and viewer in one another's space.