I’m still basking in the glow of my “Touchstones of Joy” exhibition that opened last month at Thelma Harris Art Gallery in Oakland, CA. It was wonderful to have so many friends come out for the opening of the show which included “The Marriage Project” (a multimedia exploration of the challenges of marriage) a new collection of jewelry, and floral headdresses. “The Marriage Project” is one that I had contemplated for years, and seemed particularly relevant to undertake now, given the deep divisions in our country on both a political and societal level.
In addition to the thrill of being interviewed by gallerist Thelma Harris, I so enjoyed seeing friends from different areas of my life interact, and in some cases debate the nature of the paintings. Given that “The Marriage Project” is one that explores the inherent difficulties of unions, I think that most people were surprised to see this disturbing topic rendered in brilliantly colored watercolors, thoughtful pencil sketches and sculptures aglow with semiprecious stones.
On some level it surprised me too… When thinking about this project, I always envisioned dark colors and violent images that conveyed an immediate sense of foreboding. But capturing that one note seemed to be redundant. Instead, I think, like in any engaging conversation, there has to be a measure of clear-eyed respect to be able to gain from the exchange. Shouting the obvious rarely changes minds. In these pieces, as in any form of wedlock, the overriding optimism is what draws you in first, and then, with proximity and time the pieces reveal their true message, whether through scale, juxtaposition, or word play.
And on another level, I like to think that art arises from the artist, beautiful and fully formed, knowing already what it wants to be, and ready to fight for it, like Athena sprang from Zeus’ head…
Complementing the feeling of separation in the art work is a recurring sense of interconnectedness in the jewelry. As always, seeing the hand of the artist, or artisan is important to me, as is emphasizing through use of texture, the fact that a person, whom you may never meet, has created something beautiful for you. In the latest collection, this sense of connection is expressed through interlocking rings, bracelets with handcrafted locks and overlapping layers.
Residing between fine art and more commercial pieces are the floral headdresses. Similar in spirit to Nick Cave’s “Soundsuits”, metaphorical suits of armor that are transformed into expressions of empowerment, my ornamental headdresses play with the idea of heritage and visibility while they invite conversation. Plus they bring me joy!
Thanks to all who were able to come out to see the exhibition! I am thrilled it was so well received. For those who were unable to attend, the paintings, sketches, sculptures and jewelry from the exhibition are now shown here on my website. As always, I appreciate your friendship and support.
Touchstones of Joy” closes on Dec 21, 2019.