On a recent trip to the SFMOMA I was struck by a piece by Jim Dine entitled "The Yellow Painting", a mixed media piece consisting of various hand tools on a thin wooden shelf, mounted to a canvas bathed in yellow paint, each of their places numbered by hand. The placard below indicated that his grandfathers tools had had a steady presence in his youth and influenced the work.
|Two of my Grandfathers tools: screw driver and light meter.|
This piece stuck a cord with me because of my love for tools and old objects, but also because of the mystery in the numbers. Were they a reminder from a strict craftsman that tools are to be respected and returned to their rightful place? Are they markers of specific memories bound to each tool that is safely mounted in a sort of reliquary on an almost dingy yellow field that is surely reminiscent of garage and basement walls across America? Each one tempting the viewer to reach out and grab hold of a time and a place lost to the past. And what of the missing tools? Where they removed by the artist? Walled into the house as the last of the sheet rock was installed only to resurface again years later during a remodel to remove the tired old fireplace? Or are these tools simply what the placard implied, tangible reminders of a childhood.
|Ted, the first toy I ever received.|
After writing about the childhood influences on my current work here, and wrestling with Dine's mysterious numbers, I began to look for other jewelry artists whose work was also influenced by their childhoods. A quick google search resulted in artist statement after artist statement referencing childhood past times, struggles, and influences as artists attempted to reconnect with their youth or make sense of its bearing on their adult lives. I hope you'll also enjoy some of my favorites both old and new.
Margaux Lange. Her Etsy shop, while on a break, is titled "Re-Membering Barbie Fondly". Could there be a better tag line for a collection composed of Re-purposed Dis-membered barbie parts? So good.
Nathan Dube. His statement on the Houston Metal Arts Guild website says his work "uses childhood pranks and toys, reinterpreted as high-end adult objects, to highlight the aggressive and sometimes violent ways in which men interact" and this interview from the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft highlights some of his more irritating and inspired pieces.
Isabella Liu. Scar is No More a Scar, is a collection that transforms a childhood injury which resulted in a scar into an opportunity for growth and courage.
Amy Tavern. I Live Here Now, a body of work completed during her residency at California College of Arts and Crafts, focuses on the nature of home and whether or not it is a physical place, something we hold with in ourselves, or perhaps a bit of both.
Thanks for reading!