During the 19th edition of AUTOR 2022, the International Contemporary Jewelry Fair, the artist Stina Wen from the United States of America exhibited for the first time in Romania, an art jewelry collection made of a new and revolutionary material: soft concrete. The research for this material lasted two years, during which she perfected her original technique, resulting in the elasticity and transparency of concrete.
Due to the fact that, during the AUTOR Fair, her jewelry sparked curiosity through its intrinsic tactile materiality, many questions arose from the public, and we wanted to find out in an interview, who is the artist who discovered soft concrete as a material for contemporary jewelry.
1. Stina, your works look very picturesque, are you into painting, photography or other visual arts?
Yes, I am obsessed with many different types of art forms. Jewelry is one of my ways to express myself, but I never limit myself to just jewelry. In addition to jewelry, I also studied fabrics, textiles, prints, photography and furniture design, etc.
I like to sit in the park with my sketchbook on weekends and sketch the surrounding architecture with the pencil or watercolour. I also used to take pictures with the camera. When I was traveling I couldn’t get the photo instantly, only if I went back to the darkroom of the studio.
The beautiful happens exactly then. I think art is about curiosity, and art is interconnected. Learning different art forms can also inspire my jewelry creation.
2. Are you trying to build a landscape with your jewelry pieces to achieve overall unity and harmony? Or rather highlight your own pieces? Do you have a collective approach to your works or was it just a choice of presentation?
When I create my jewelry, I will put more emphasis on the work itself. The materials are consistent, the soft concrete which I invented and sterling silver. Each piece is unique and has a different design in terms of visual form and method of wearing. Although I emphasised more on the work itself, their shapes and colours build a harmonious landscape when all the elements are put together.
I think that this harmonious landscape is given by the work itself, not by me. Each piece is unique and has a different design in terms of visual form and method of wearing. Although I emphasised more on the work itself, their shapes and colours build a harmonious landscape when all the elements are put together. I think that this harmonious landscape is given by the work itself, not by me.
I spent two years researching materials and eventually inventing the unique soft concrete material.
After countless experiments, we developed a systematic and collective approach to handling the material. With this “secret recipe”, we were able to create unique concrete jewelry with a gradient from hard to soft.
3. Your works speak a lot about serendipity, how and where do you find serendipity besides jewelry making?
The ability to find the beautiful in ordinary life is a talent, but it is a talent that must be cultivated. I always find serendipity in my life.
For example, I found a small sapling growing in my car door; I found that the socket next to my desk looked like a smiling face ; I found that the clouds in the sky looked like a cartoon scene…
If people treat one thing attentively, they can always find beauty in it. These serendipitous discoveries and interesting thoughts imperceptibly form my creativity.
4. Although you have graduated in traditional metalsmithing, your current jewelry pieces look far from traditional, when was the turning point in your approach?
Curiosity pushes me to keep trying new things. I still love to do traditional metalsmithing, because I think it’s the foundation of jewelry, but I also want to do something unique. I think attending the graduate school was a turning point because our professor didn’t restrict the materials we used.
Therefore, we were free to make our own artistic expression. In the beginning I tried to experiment a lot with alternative materials, such as wood, resin, felt, clay, fabric, etc. Finally, I found the material I love to explore – concrete.
5. How did your style change over the years? Do you think your first works still represent you?
My beginning works are all made of metal, but I also like to play with different kind of mechanisms, and I want the wearer to find the joy of playing with jewelry.
Although my work has changed a lot in terms of form and material, I can still see my design ethos or philosophy of jewelry: I think jewelry should be interesting and can bring surprises to people.
Life is hard, so I hope my jewelry can bright up people’s lives.