During the 3 days of material narratives Workshop, Melanie Isverding and the participants approached the topic of materials in contemporary jewelry, in the context of Joseph Beuys’ philosophy. They analyzed the semantics of the material and found out how his choice supports ideas at the narrative level.
The workshop took place at THE ART-UP School of Contemporary Art and was part of the exhibition and performance I LIKE JEWELRY & JEWELRY likes me.BEUYS 101, initiated by Goethe Institute, in the year dedicated to the artist Joseph Beuys, complementary event AUTOR International Contemporary Jewelry fair 2022, which took place on the 28th – 29th of May at the Oscar Maugsch Palace, in the center of Bucharest.
We are born endowed with infinite possibilities and possibly magical powers.
Unfortunately, as time goes by, we not only don’t develop these skills, but we also slowly lose them, we are on a road full of obstacles and clues which indicate them.
We allow ourselves to be guided by prejudices, automatisms, “social values”, traditions and habits poorly understood or not really understood.
There comes a crucial moment for everyone, the moment that we must “see with the eyes of the soul, when we must have ourselves on a “suicide” journey – to die symbolically to be fully reborn, to take on this profound moment of irreversible metamorphosis.
In fact, we are only pilgrims on the way in search of the magic within us, we just have to have the courage to (re)become our own talisman.
I’ve come to believe that, besides being an artist and a professor, Melanie is first and foremost one of the most amazingly generous persons that I’ve ever met.
She altruistically accompanies you on your journey, offering such delicate and yet so spot on guidance, so that you can coherently define the concept that your design shall be based upon.
I did not finish any piece during the workshop. I just felt I need more time. But we came to discover together a truly beautiful tale, and she patiently helped me to unravel it, layer by layer, until we reached its core, and the later proved to be a narrative so close to my heart. I was mesmerized by the grace with which she meticulously translates a concept into technical details and also by her hands-on approach.
I shall most likely finish this project in the following months, taking it slowly and enjoying the journey. Until then, here are a few glimpses of the story that shall eventually become a capsule collection of brooches, obviously…. and of course, I am already impatiently waiting for the next opportunity to work, exchange ideas and learn with and from Melanie Isverding.
You never encompass how much you pour your soul and mind in a creation, unless you consciously analyse every choice you make, from the size and shape, to the selection of materials and the way you put them toghether. These three days spent with Melanie Isverding’s “Material Naratives” workshop, revealed how deep inside our minds are the mechanisms of creation and how every aspect of our lives determines the reasons which stand behind our actions. During these three days, I have created a brooch, a piece of jewellery which expresess my pain, my suffering, my wories, my joy, my aspiration to perfection, my hope for being healthy again.
I created a round shaped brooch from plastic vials, that contained a medicine for my suffering eyes.
I kept the used vials with the secret thought, that one day I will be able to create a beautiful jewellery, that will pay off for all the pain and the suffering I endured due to this disease, which the artificial tears inside the vials are meant to treat. And if I succeed to create a beautiful jewellery, then I will reverse the process that is making me seek, and I can hope for the healing.
I combined pearls and denim with the used plastic vials. On a symbolic level, the meaning of pearls is perfection and harmony, but to me they also represent the teardrops that I miss so much for my eyes. Moreover, they suggest elegance, preciousness, recognition, confort, stability, perfection and evoke the connection to my mother, who always wears pearls. The denim stands for durability, but also versatility, youthfulness and playfulness, just like my sweet teenager kids. The round shape of the brooch points to my striving for perfection and harmony.
Without even being fully conscious about it, so many thoughts can influence deeply the act of creation and so much of yourself can be reflected in just a little piece of brooch made of nonprecious, recycled materials.
If I had to describe my brooch with three words, I’d say HARMONY, HOPE and GRATITUDE.
Thanks a lot to Melanie for such careful and mindful trip into the world of concepts. Before I didn’t fully understand how to connect the idea to the final work. But following Melany step by step I’ve recognized the algorithm. Moreover, the workshop helped me to work with new materials I avoided before. All together broadened my perspective and gave me a lot of inspiration for future works.
My work the “Treasure is Inside’ emphasizes that often times, the most valuable side is hidden inside.
I used three types of material: textiles, metal, stone.
I was very excited to meet Melanie Isverding and discover how she approaches the materials, symbols and stories that lie beneath the choices we make, when it comes to the materials we use in jewelry, especially since, for me, collecting, presenting and bringing together in a new context all sorts of objects is a way of expressing myself. Therefore, I was looking forward to making this process more conscious, as promised in the workshop’s description.
Melanie used several techniques to make this possible, one being to analyze the materials from a semiotic point of view and thus discover signs and meanings from various perspectives, such as social, cultural or personal. We were asked to bring materials that could be referential to these three ways of interpretation and various images that put the chosen materials in different contexts. After the first rounds of discussions we decided how to translate them in the jewelry language.
In order to get the right materials, I took a walk on the streets of Bucharest and gathered some objects that draw my attention. I decided to work with a piece of cloth on which a double spiral was embroidered, an ancient symbol that has acquired numerous meanings over time being used in many cultures, the most obvious meaning being that of duality, of the balance between two opposing forces. My spiral had an interesting element, the person who embroidered it added something that seemed to me to resemble thorns.
Another meaning that attracted me was that of femininity, that even the one that was under the idea of embroidery, that was another reason why I chose to work with that piece of tablecloth, social movements like feminism being the directions in which I find myself.
One last reason for choosing this material was because it looked like the infinity sign, which I thought was a nice coincidence, since at the beginning of the workshop we talked about signs that represent us. I chose the sign of infinity as I like to believe that nothing is absolutely predictable and always something can happen and put everything on a completely new and unexpected path.
On a personal level, Melanie encouraged us to listen to our impulses, emotions and intuition, or at least that was for me what I think I took from interacting with her. Of course, this is not a new method, but it seems that I needed to remind myself to actively listen to my unconscious choices and have a little more confidence in my inner world and my own interpretation of reality.
Between the 19th – 21th of May, I had the chance to participate in the Material Narratives Workshop held by Melanie Isverding and organized by Goethe Institute Bucharest, in collaboration with the AUTOR Jewelry Platform and ART-UP Jewelry School, a collateral event of the exhibition I LIKE JEWELRY AND JEWELRY likes me. BEUYS 101.
The meeting with Melanie was not just an opportunity to discuss, exchange ideas and work with a jewelry artist with an impressive background and track record, but it was also a return to the analysis of the design of the object (jewelry, in this case) through the semiotics prism.
The names of Ferdinand de Saussure, Charles Sanders Pierce and Charles William Morris were known to me from college, when I applied theories in the sphere of language analysis and sense-building to interpret images of artworks and advertising. Considering that a jewelry, as an object itself, is not only meaningful (incorporating signs and symbols), but it also generates new meanings, that its perception can be different depending on a number of factors, from temporal and geographical, to cultural and individual, including the relationship between body and jewelry. We had the opportunity to work on a piece that includes social, cultural/traditional and personal references.
In other words, the process of jewelry making, has become hyper-conscious, conscious and controlled, analyzed. The chosen materials are circumscribed to a personal choice, and the encapsulation of meaning has become a process, a dance, a continuous oscillation between the vehicle (material), the designated reality and the meaning. Therefore, what do you do with coffee beans, chunned cloth fragments and silver?
You can find out the answer in the pictures: A brooch made out of linen, embroidered with silver silk thread and a traditional pattern, filled with coffee beans. A plea for connections, relationships, time to relax. And a coffee smell, that always accompanies you, adding a comforting tactile effect. It’s my own hygge, if I may say so.
I had the great chance, that I was very close to miss it, to attend the Material Narratives workshop held by Melanie Isverding. Talking and working with Melanie came as a turning point in my new artistic path. It was an opportunity to work with both a teacher like Melanie and the rest of the participants, and it was very interesting to listen to her guidance for each individual jewelry artist. Melanie guided me very discreetly to an approach, that I would never have considered before, without feeling at all influenced, as if I had made this decision to make a large piece of painted canvas, a brooch, which i don’t usually do.
The accuracy of her artistic language has made my interpretation of object-jewelry design much clearer and my expression much easier in the drawing-painting area. The concept of each piece started from 3 materials, representing the social, cultural or traditional dimension embedded in the personal context. I didn’t limit myself to these references and I brought several of my sketches, in the form of various plants preserved in the memory of precious metals various textiles prepared with alternative materials, which could be put into a mount, semiprecious stones that with Melanie’s help I cleared them up and found a way of expression.
During this workshop, we received a lot of information, primarily in terms of artistic language, as well as technical guidance.
The creative concept inspired by Melanie, sign-symbol-creation, helped us to create a new connection between the spiritual and the material realm.
I believe that, the creative space inside us can be expanded in different manners, with appropriate guidance and the right experience. These days with Melanie were a journey from the inside out.
I chose to make a brooch of materials that connect us to our daily lives in the city, aluminum from soda cans, plastic from the packaging of the paddies, a nail from a construction site and a candy.
The concept being related to choices, we had to choose whether we contribute in a positive way to the future of the species or not. We all have to make this choice and the brooch tries to speed up this decision.
I see the contemporary jewel as a way to visually and spiritually cement a symbol.