How much You is in Every Me?

A workshop led by Doris Maninger with the students of the second year of the BFA program.

“Proust said something to the effect that we only see beauty when we’re looking through an ornate gold frame, because beauty is very much about familiarity and it’s reinforcing an idea we have already. It’s like when we go on holiday, all we really want to do is take the photograph that we’ve seen in the brochure. Because our idea of beauty is constructed, by family, friends, education, nationality, race, religion, politics, all these things.”

Grayson Perry, The Reith Lectures*
* By clicking here you can listen to all of them.
Between the 1st and the 11th of February 2016, the students of the Alchimia BFA Program participated in a workshop led by Alchimia co-director, jewelry maker and artist Doris Maninger, titled How Much of You is in Every Me?.

Through this workshop I stimulate students in thinking about the formation, the weight and the role of their own cultural identity and how much it influences their work, and the conceptual and practical decisions they take. Via a variety of exercises they reflect on how much their biography (influenced by history, context, gender, etc.) affects everything they do, whether consciously or unconsciously. This workshop is also intended to wash away the fear of not being original (I believe we are always and never original), of copying, of not being knowledgeable enough. My aim is to make them aware of how everything they make, the repetitions they happen to produce, the patterns they create, all deeply relate to their persona, so why certain forms and thoughts always reappear, and what it is they are staying away from…”

Doris Maninger

To fill the gap between course descriptions and actual experience, Alchimia asked Margaret Munchheimer, one of our participating students, to write an account of the workshop from her perspective.

“Interwoven into each one of us is a unique combination of collective memory, cultural references and personal experiences loosely defined as ‘Identity’. This month, Doris Maninger guided us towards an in-depth investigation of this topic. Using photography, sketching, and model- and jewelry-making, this workshop looked at the forces and currents that shape and define us, and how they resonate and return in our practice. As a starting point for the analysis of the patterns, shapes, numbers and themes that recur in our work, we realized freely-interpreted presentations of our cultural identity and shared with the group the images that inspire us.
By identifying a single shape to represent ourselves, we built 3-D models, dissected and reassembled the same form, used and worked on the shapes of others, and deconstructed everything in multiple ways,  contemplating how much of ourselves we project on the other. We finalized the worksop by realizing a self-portrait as a jewelry piece,  critically discussing our choices regarding both form and function, via the new lenses of how and why we define ourselves through what we create.
The results were challenging and also emotional, especially in relation to the definition of the Self via the use of one image, and the interpretation of someone else’s gaze over our own work. A final exhibition of everything we realized showed a very cohesive insight into each student’s aesthetic, revealing yet another link between our personal artistic vocabularies, adding another narrative thread to the reading of our work.”

Margaret Munchheimer


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