During the 19th edition of AUTOR 2022 – International Contemporary Jewelry Fair, the artist JACQUELINE Y. YAO exhibited an art jewelry collection that speaks about a personal space where you can connect deeper with yourself.
Due to the fact that her jewelry pieces presented at AUTOR FAIR 2022 aroused curiosity among the public through the technique she used, the AUTOR platform decided to look for deeper answears from the artist herslef.
The next AUTOR Fair, the 20th edition, an anniversary edition, will take place between 6-& MAY 2023, in Bucharest, Romania.
1. Jaqueline, your jewelry pieces presented at AUTOR FAIR 2022 look unique. Some of them seem to be 3d printed, but they are all handmade. Why did you choose weaving with metal as your primary technique? What does this kind of process mean to you?
We are naturally attracted to materials because they have unique characteristics. I am interested in how materials speak to me, how I feel their characteristics, and how I communicate and live with them.
We discover the world through our senses—something that touches our skin gives us memories. The objects we spend time with, we can tell what they are when we touch them. Their texture, temperature, weight, and hardness give them their uniqueness. Once we experience them through the contrast of the senses, the material is more convincing and more compelling. Understanding the material is best done by comparison. Our senses are such that we understand roughness by contrasting it with smoothness. Thus, the silver wire is a very metallic band that is durable but feels solid and timeless, offsetting hardness and coolness.
However, silver wire is something that we don’t investigate in great detail. I use silver wire as my main material—Sterling silver wire, Argentium silver wire, gold-filled silver wire, and fine silver wire—silver wire is a beautiful material for form expression. For me, the design process is related to how I see, what I see, and how I translate it into metal. So, it is less about the aesthetics or the appearance, although that is still present, but much more about creating a space that makes people feel better than when they arrived. I mainly rely on these materials because they match all expectations. It’s all about well-being. That means that when people go into it, they don’t know why they feel the way they feel, but it’s actually all been orchestrated.
Also, I’ve immensely enjoyed the process. Most of the time, I need to repeat, but because this repeat brings me so many “unexpected joys.” People are always attracted by the everyday recurrence of sunrise and sunset. It is a beautiful thing to feel the unknown and experience unpredictable joyful, which for me is the greatest joy and hope in the small but real happiness of life. I don’t know what will happen next, but I will think about it—maybe I will be attracted by the smell of a cup of coffee at the corner of the road and then walk into the store to enjoy it the next time.
Everything I do is based on a heart of gratitude. Because I want to weave the stories and ideas in my head with positive energy, these energies accompany me and help me slowly to grow. I can take all these jewelry elements and start making them into different small pieces and treat them with the reverence they require. This reverence will give others the same great power. I want to express the beauty and delicacy of being human in a very natural way, with the most authentic feelings. I have been expressing my desire to create a space that feels breathable and comfortable, and I think the prerequisite for such a space is to feel comfortable in your heart and to feel a certain kind of gratification.
2. You draw your inspiration mainly from music, philosophy, and art. Which philosophy do you embody the most in your works? What about a music genre? Which one played the most important role in your art process and jewelry?
I have some rebellious spirit in my genes, but I’m not sure what I rebel with.Music, philosophy, and art enrich my spiritual world and lead me to explore my journey.
I love Rhythm and blues, jazz, country music, electronic music, classical music, blues, funk, soul music, and folk songs. It very depends on the mood, situations, and maybe time passed by.Listening to music calms me, brings me energy, and sometimes helps me get through long hours. It companionship with me with all emotions, and music decorates the air.Philosophy helps me avoid making boring stuff. To broaden my mind and vision and to make my idea very inclusive.Everyone could be an artist because people have creative abilities, but art is an eternal pursuit of respect.
As a jeweler, I am inspired by the world and the moments I experience. Whatever experiences I go through create emotions that trigger me to create jewelry pieces. Noticing things is also a source of inspiration as I am observing the environment that surrounds me. I get my best ideas in daily life—like sitting in traffic or doodling—I’m allowing my subconscious to take over so that I can free associate. You have to be in a state of play to design. If you’re not in a state of play, you can’t make anything.
An idea exists outside of the hands. It has an impact on real life. When I started my idea of space, I focused on some emotional memory. When I work with my piece, it invokes a memory of a bygone era of how I experienced, how I expected, and how I imagined the world to be.
If we reduce ourselves, we can enlarge the work as a journey. I imagine myself as a spring and wire. Above all, I want to use a simple way to express complex thoughts. I put all my emotions into wire. The process tells my story while I am weaving, building a space to extend my jewelry to the world as a tiny wearable sculpture. I believe great design simplifies a very complicated world. I still weave and crochet with the same springs and silver wire. Everything is the same, and it allows the feeling to change. Then it would give them identity, and there’s an emotional aspect to it.
Everybody’s experience with the subconscious is different. We see the outcomes of the subconscious through different artistic practices; an example of mood in the subconscious as an artistic practice would be the work of Jackson Pollock, an American painter and an abstract expressionist, who was smoking, listening to jazz, and dancing while painting. He seemed to be in a very positive mood, full of first-hand creativity. All his moods and movements become part of his final artworks. Pollock used cigarettes to gain new ideas for his artworks, while the music he danced to created a good mood full of positive emotions that broadened his creative skills.
The processes for making my pieces are complicated. But while it’s complicated, the form I choose to make is simple. The process of creating a simplified form is rather complicated because the complexity of illustrating the process or textures in a very minimal form is also complicated—I wanted to create a very minimal form to illustrate the process or the textures that I’m creating.
3. Your latest collection speaks about a personal space where you can connect deeper with yourself. How do you create this deeper connection, it’s the process of making jewelry or something else?
An idea exists outside of the hands. It has an impact on real life. When I started my idea of space, I focused on some emotional memory. When I work with my piece, it invokes a memory of a bygone era of how I experienced, how I expected, and how I imagined the world to be. No matter how I layered or combined them, the element looked unique from every place one entered it. If you enter from top to bottom, it is different from left to right because the view is different. I create mood boards and blogs with images that help people once they reach the space. They helped emotionally connect with the community while functioning as directional feelings.
I am a visual person; by that, I prefer to express my thoughts visually because I think it’s so straightforward but also very complicated. This kind of contradiction is like my pieces; anyone can see it, but maybe it is not always understandable. There are some stories or emotions that I will add to a workshop during the making process and present them in some texture. For me, this is enough.
One of the qualities that distinguish my work is how we experience a space and how we feel in a current moment to satisfy the subconscious.
We experience the feelings given to us by the sense of taste and smell, which guides us to a specific place. When I have an idea that I want to explore, I like open answers and endings. Maybe after a while, I’ll have new ideas about time and the world when I think about it. In that case, the answer in my mind will change. In life, if it’s not a math problem (maybe because I’m not good at math), I hope there’s no answer, but the results unfold with positive expectations. I may be a dreamer or an idealist, but I like this mood and mentality.
For every aspect of the world, even objects, we rely on what and how we feel to create connections. Connections between people are emotional, but a connection between a person and an object can also be emotional. We see this in connection with people. As a jeweler, my job is to be a bridge-builder, creating a bridge between my jewelry and the world. I want to build that bridge reliably. When I am weaving my work, each stitch builds upon itself, much like my weaving and crochet work. This creates a strong bridge, and when people walk on it, they feel grounded. Weaving soft and thin wire together creates a strong bond, evoking the idea of trust and reliability with the audience. And we’re nothing as human beings if we don’t experience that connection. I love to hear people tell all kinds of stories about themselves, about the people around them and even the strangers they meet, the stories of the everyday, the stories of real people—that’s how people are. We are always in contact, linked, alone, thinking, and meeting, which seems to be a constant cycle. This cycle of connection through the bridge is the content. The power of the content is the whole point of design—that moment when we feel something compelling.
4. The texture and design of your pieces remind me of medieval armor, did you intend to imbue your jewelry pieces with the power to protect the wearer?
Yes! I appreciate this amazing resonance.
Contemporary jewelry is a kind of visual art practice breaking the limits of what it can be. For me, contemporary jewelry is like language. It’s a bold and genius way to communicate, to express our ideas.That is the most fantastic part of why I think contemporary jewelry attracts me.
Jewelry is not only a fact or what we see but what we imagine. Courage is a quality that we tend to associate with conflict. We respect brave soldiers. When they face a formidable opponent and emerge victorious.
We think of them as heroes.
But there is another kind of courage in the world based on the same principles.
✦ Personal courage ✦
Vulnerability does not put the protagonist in any immediate physical danger. It is a form of psychological courage that requires you to express your feelings and thoughts uninvited in front of a public hostile audience.
The reason I am touched by soft power, it’s because I feel the power of influence is sometimes much more strong than any other power, slower, quietly, nicely, but strongly.
Strong faith and perseverance can overcome the physical pain of disease, and a solid spiritual world can make a hopeless life full of sunshine. A smile can melt a cold face, keep good self-cultivation day after day and influence the behavior and lifestyle of people around us. These are the powerful forces of soft power in people’s lives. The silver wire I use can perfectly express these ideas—when the soft and slender wire turns into tiny and soft springs and then into a large web and soldered together, it becomes a solid, small sculpture with its expression.
As a woman, I transmit all the power from the woman’s infinite soft power. It flows out through the heart, into the jewelry piece, and out into the world. I’m looking for a moment when we feel we’re as close to the soul as possible. When it liberates you, it allows you to do that, to help you think of something compelling. Here I want to speak about the responsibility of telling people’s stories and evoking positive things.
The silver evokes in me a sense of softness and a soft touch but is it is still quite strong. I can compare the pieces to women: women are perceived to be vulnerable in some regards; however, we are the strongest. We are blessed with patience, humility, and tolerance. We have infinite possibilities.
Not only women.
5. The public at AUTOR FAIR 2022 was pleasantly surprised by the collection you exhibited. How did you feel separated from the work you’ve done? Do you think you can isolate the artist from the jewelry? What happens, then?
“When artists sit down in their chairs, they switch personas. They stop being the creator and turn into a critic. With the temperament of the most fastidious connoisseur, they look at what they have just created and evaluate their efforts. “ I read this part from one of my favorite books, “Play To The Gallery” by Grayson Perry.
I dream of being an interesting person, enjoying my life every moment, and noticing things happening around me or in my life. When I feel full of charge, my brain feels like sparking. Then it’s time to back to the studio to create and focus on working. This is my favorite routine.
In my opinion, no matter what my role is, first thing first, I will try my best to become a better “I.” I must distinguish myself from any roles. I am a student with my professors and experienced people, a child back home with my parents, a crazy person who hangs out with my friends, an employee at work, and an artist in my field, and I respect that role so much. They are all me.
6. If you were a jewel, what kind of jewel would you be and why? What purpose would you serve?
Well-crafted, Minimalism, Unique, Timeless. If I were a jewel, I hope I could be a long-lasting piece of jewelry that well-crafted, looks minimalist, and is unique.
I hope when people wear me or see me, I can bring them confidence and a smile from the heart. Not just roughly beautiful but also have vitality, being passed on.